Nets vs. Rockets NBA Preview

Bruce Brown #1 of the Brooklyn Nets high-fives Joe Harris #12. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP
Bruce Brown #1 of the Brooklyn Nets high-fives Joe Harris #12. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

If there were ever two NBA clubs in the same universe going in opposite directions, it would Brooklyn and Houston. The only thing these two have in common is their players get paid to play basketball. Oh, and James Harden.

The Houston Rockets have lost 12 in a row and covered the spread once. Sports betting websites keep trying to make lines that make sense to split the action of this spiraling club and it’s not happening. Here is a clear indication of how bad Houston has played. The Rockets are losing by 13.8 points a game, not against their opponents, but AGAINST THE SPREAD!

Brooklyn (23-13, 19-17 ATS) on the other hand is 9-1 SU and ATS in their past 10 conflicts. Besides this being a fantastic stretch, the Nets have accomplished this with Kevin Durant out of the lineup for the majority of these games. Reports are KD won’t be back until after the All-Star break and which has not been a problem.

Though not the only reason, one team has James Harden and the other does not. The JH version the Nets have is a motivated player with something to prove, compared to the same guy that wanted out of H-Town.

BetMGM and other top online betting sites have Brooklyn as 9.5-point favorites against the NBA odds.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets

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James Harden Has Brooklyn Cookin’

Harden caught a lot of heat for his attitude in Houston and doing whatever possible to force a trade. While that is unseemly behavior in the public eye, in the working world, people change jobs all the time when unhappy.

Harden has taken his game to new heights. For the most part, it coincided when Kyrie Irving said that Harden was Brooklyn’s point guard and he was the shooting guard. Whether intended to be earnest or not, Harden has embraced that role. The Beard’s ball-handling has gotten less sloppy and instead of trying to dribble and find a lane and passing the ball to teammates with the shot clock winding down, allowing them few options, he’s much more of a playmaker now.

The trickle-down effect of no Durant and a part-time Irving is that the Nets remain the league’s top-scoring team at over 120 PPG and players like Bruce Brown and Joe Harris are ahead of career averages in scoring.

Steve Nash’s squad might have flaws, but right now, they have been close to perfect in piling up victories.

Houston Can’t Be This Bad Can They?

It seems like months ago the Rockets (11-22 SU & ATS) traded Harden, they won five in a row (4-1 ATS) and climbed above .500 and the joke was “James Who?”.

If Harden was not happy before, one can only wonder how unhappy he would be today since center Christian Wood went on the shelf. Wood was averaging 22 PPG and 10 rebounds and was starting to find himself in his fourth season. The last time he played was the last time his team won.

Houston is losing by 18.4 PPG in this wretched period and while being crushed by Memphis by 44 points two games ago has upped the average higher than it should possibly be. Nonetheless, anyone making NBA picks realizes backing the Rockets right now is a terrible decision.

This is a club that has lost confidence in itself, both individually and collectively. The older players like Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and even John Wall see the franchise in going in a new direction and they are stop-gap players until new, younger and less expensive ones can be found.

This is not a good situation in southwest Texas and first-year head coach Stephen Silas now has to do something he did not foresee when he was first hired.

The Point Spread Winner

In looking at this clash, you know Harden and his former teammates will both be motivated wanting to show the other something. Houston played without Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and David Nwaba on Monday and lost Danuel House Jr. (knee) during the game. House and Gordon were listed as questionable for tonight, while Wood and Nwaba aren’t expected to play.

Though Rockets players would like to show their former teammate they can win without him, this shorthanded makes this a real uphill battle.

With Houston 3-11 ATS after a loss by 10 points or more and 0-7 ATS in home games versus teams forcing 14 or fewer turnovers a game this season, playing against the Rockets is the way to go.

NBA Picks: Net -9.5 at BetMGM