Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets Pick
Philadelphia 76ers (41-24 SU, 31-34 ATS) vs. Houston Rockets (39-25 SU, 29-33-2 ATS)
When: Friday, March 8th, 2019 – 8:00 PM ET
Where: Toyota Center – Houston, TX
Point Spread: PHI +7.5 / HOU -7.5
Power Rankings: Houston +3
Takeaways from Philadelphia and Houston’s Most Recent Games
The 76ers enter into this game on the heels of a stunning upset. Philadelphia was shocked in the Windy City, and those along with me who had Sixers ATS, on Wednesday at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. Closing as a four-point favorite, the Sixers came up short in a 108-107 thriller.
The Rockets extended their winning streak to six games when they produced yet another impressive road win, where we cashed on the moneyline, in the Great White North on Tuesday. Closing as a 3.5-point underdog, Houston defeated the Raptors by significant margins in a 107-95 win.
How the Public is Betting the Philadelphia-Houston Game
The Rockets opened as a seven-point favorite. Since the open of this market, early action on Houston has moved the market upward by half of a point and propelled the Rockets to their present number at Bovada of -7.5.
Philadelphia and Houston last locked horns on January 21st in the City of Brotherly Love. The Sixers closed as a four-point favorite and covered with ease as they defeated the Rockets 121-93.
Philadelphia Center Joel Embiid remains out yet again as he continues to recover from a knee injury. At this point, the All-Star’s absence has been a well-documented fact and has been addressed by Philadelphia. In his absence the Sixers are 4-3 SU. Once again, the Sixers will turn to veteran Amir Johnson (nine points, two assists, and eight rebounds against Chicago) to start in Embiid’s place.
Can Philadelphia’s Field Goal Efficiency Generate Another Win Against Clutch City?
When these two teams last met in January, Philadelphia outshot Houston in all phases to win by nearly 30 points. From the field, the Sixers shot a remarkable 48.9% compared to Houston’s 36%. From three-point land, Philly also excelled considerably as they hit 34.8% of their three-point attempts compared to Houston’s paltry 26.2%. The rest is history as they say. Philadelphia will go back to this avenue to produce yet another win. Overall, Philadelphia sits seventh in field goal percentage (47.3%). Philly will look to rinse, wash, and repeat here as the Rockets remain 26th in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage at 47.5%. From three-point range, Philadelphia’s performance was considered typical for Houston opponents as the Rockets allow the opposition to hit an eighth ranked 34.5% from beyond the arc. The key difference maker was Houston inability to hit a three-pointer as they normally hit 35% of their three-point attempts (20th in the NBA). Should the Rockets fix their stroke from downtown, this game will likely head in a far different direction.
Can Houston Take Advantage of Free Throw Shooting to Get the Job Done?
In the area of free throw shooting, the Rockets have a significant advantage. From the charity stripe, Houston sits ninth in the league in success rate as they own a 78.9% free throw percentage. Philadelphia sits 14th in the NBA hitting 77.5% of their free throw attempts. In terms of opponent free throw percentage, the Sixers sit 24th in the league as opponents hit 77.7% of their free throw attempts. As for Houston, the Rockets allow opponents to hit 76.9% of their free throws which places them 17th in the NBA. Despite Houston owning the edge in taking advantage of free points, the roles reversed in the last contest between these two teams. Philadelphia hit an uncanny 81.8% of their free throws while Houston hit just 76.9% of their attempts from the free throw line. Undoubtedly, this will be a focal point for the Rockets as they will look to right the ship in this facet. Should they be able to do so along with honing an advantage in turnovers, the ebb and flow of this game can go entirely in Houston’s favor.
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The most prevalent trend in this contest is the narrative that the Sixers have covered in the last four meetings between these two sides. For Over/Under players, the Over is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 contests that have taken place in Houston.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Houston -7.5
Sometimes you just have to ride the team with the hot hand and no one in this league is hotter than the Rockets at the moment. “Clutch City” looks like a basketball team that is a viable contender to represent the West in the NBA Finals this season. Houston also looks like a club that can win the Finals irrespective of whatever Eastern Conference opponent they get. After all, this team just won two games in a row against the pre-season pick to win the East (Boston) and the 2017-18 top seed in the Eastern Conference (Toronto). While this is an impressive feat, the Rockets also managed to do this on their own courts where both teams are known to be very hard to beat. While takers may back Philadelphia by virtue of the last result between these two squads, it appears that it was a night where everything went right for Philly and many things went wrong for Houston. I don’t see lightning striking twice here. As a whole, Philadelphia is still a losing team when they face teams with a .500 record or better (16-18 SU). On the contrary, Houston has shown that they have an ability to roll up their sleeves with the big dogs as they are 21-14 SU against .500 or better teams. Ultimately, this will be the deciding factor in this game. I expect Houston to make the message loud and clear that the January 21st result was just a one-off. I have the Rockets winning this one by 20 points.