It was a good night to be at home for Eastern Conference teams in showdown games. Chicago prevailed over Toronto, Indiana got back on track beating the streaking Hawks and the Cavaliers looked remarkably better now that they decided to actually play their players. However, the one Eastern Conference team that couldn’t defend their home gym were the Washington Wizards, who were routed by the Los Angeles Clippers, handing me another defeat. It’s been a rough seven day stretch after nearly three weeks of sustained glory. Things tend to ebb and flow a bit in the world of basketball betting and we can’t expect to go 14-2 all the time, but this losing week is getting pretty old. Let’s snap this streak and get back to winning tonight.
There are only five games in the NBA slate tonight, and just a head’s up – I’m not on this game tonight, but if you like the Cavaliers game, it is highly likely Kyrie Irving will be sitting out tonight for standard precautionary rest.
Ok, on to today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets -2.5
The Hawks are playing really good basketball, last night’s loss at Indiana notwithstanding. However, so is Houston and Houston is also at home and didn’t play last night. I’ve written it a thousand times, but it is a pretty tried and true formula in the NBA – pick against the road team on the back end of a back to back when they are playing at a playoff caliber team. That would be very applicable in tonight’s situation. Houston, despite a 16-16 record, has looked more like the team that was a conference finalist last year in the last three weeks, highlighted by a Christmas Day upset win over San Antonio.
Houston is only laying 2 ½, a strong indication of just how fed up wagerers have become with the mercurial nature of the Houston Rockets. It also underlies some suspicion about an occasionally inattentive defensive team matching up against a team with precision ball movement and offensive efficiency. Houston has struggled with Atlanta in the past, but this year both Howard and Harden are dressed and presumably playing, so it is a slightly different situation.
Houston has gone 4—2 ATS in their last six games and is 5-0 ATS in their last five home games. Plus, they are the home team hosting a team on the backend of a back-to-back. I am frankly surprised this line isn’t closer to five, but I feel good about laying just a bucket. Look for the Rockets to have the fresher legs and the friendly home crowd and to win the game and cover.