Rockets vs. Wizards Odds
|Moneyline||+100 / -120|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday morning and via DraftKings.|
After trading James Harden and getting their starters healthy, the Houston Rockets new era started with six straight wins. Since that electric start, teams have figured out their game plan and the Rockets have lost six of their past seven. Facing the 7-17 Washington Wizards could be the perfect opportunity to start the win streak again, though.
The Wizards’ record is second-worst in the league, they have won four of their past nine. That might not be something to brag about, but it marks a substantial improvement from their start to the season.
At full health, this game would lean in the Rockets’ favor. Unfortunately, Victor Oladipo has already been ruled out and Christian Wood remains under week-to-week review with an ankle injury.
Houston’s injuries and the Wizards’ erratic performances make betting the spread too risky for me. Let’s look at the total instead and see if we can find value on either side.
Since moving on from Harden, the Rockets have flipped from all offense to all defense. This change in philosophy pushed their Defensive Rating up to 108.2, currently sitting fourth in the league, according to NBA Advanced Stats. Of course, replacing lackadaisical defender like Harden with Oladipo’s excellent effort was bound to have a dramatic impact.
The new gameplan caught teams off-guard leading to the Rockets’ immediate success post-trade. As the season continued though, teams adjusted to these changes. During their first six-games, the Rockets averaged 118.2 points per game on 45.8% shooting. Since that run, the Rockets’ offense dwindled to 99.4 points per game on 41.1% shooting.
One major reason for the offense halting is the absence of Wood who has been their leading scorer. Wood’s numbers have been outstanding at 22.0 points per game on a crazy efficient 55.8% field goal percentage and 42.1% from behind-the-arc.
In addition to missing Wood, Oladipo has been in and out of the lineup and was ruled out for tonight’s game. Since joining the Rockets, Oladipo’s has not met the standards set in Indiana. His efficiency currently sits at career lows shooting just 38.6% from the field and 29.9% from behind-the-arc. We will see if John Wall and Eric Gordon can do any better on Monday night.
Missing two of their offensive leaders means Houston needs their new defensive mindset to carry them to victory.
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After upsetting the Celtics on Sunday, Washington hopes to get its second set of back-to-back wins this season. Bradley Beal paved the way to victory scoring 35 points on 10-of-18 shooting and his play led to a lead large enough to rest key players in the fourth quarter. On a back-to-back set, that rest should provide even more value than usual.
While the Wizards won comfortably, some of their flaws still stood out in their performance. Most notably their troubled shooting from 3-point range. Shooting an abysmal 7-of-30 against Boston, it marked the fifth-straight game Washington failed to shoot 30.0% or better from behind-the-arc.
Washington compensated for its poor offense with an impressive defensive performance holding the Celtics to 35.6% from the floor and 25.7% from deep. This provides hope for Wizards fans as the defense has shown no signs of life all year. Their 116.2 Defensive Rating ranks second-last per Basketball-Reference.
If the Wizards hope to turn this season around, Russell Westbrook will need to play better. According to Action Labs, Westbrook is doubtful to play Monday as he has typically rested on back-to-backs. When he is on the floor, he has shots just 41.9% from the field and averages 4.9 turnovers per game.
While Westbrook’s rampant style is wildly entertaining it the inefficiency and trouble keeping the ball are too costly of errors for winning teams.
With the Rockets missing two of their most valuable players, this game will likely be more competitive than it should — which puts more pressure on Wall to create enough offense for Houston to be a threat. If Wall can penetrate, the Wizards have little resistance to offer to slow him at the rim.
This will all depend on the Rockets shooting well enough to leave driving lanes open. While Washington allows teams to shoot 39.5% from 3-point range on the season, the Rockets may struggle to take advantage as they only shoot 34.5% from deep.
For the Wizards, as they have all year, they will likely need to outscore their opponent to win. With Wood and Oladipo out, that feels much more doable.
However, if Houston’s defense can limit Beal, the Wizards have limited options to step up on offense. As we have seen throughout the year, going away from Beal has not been a winning strategy.
With both teams facing questions on offense, the under is the safe bet.
Pick: Under 228.5