Rockets vs. Blazers Pick NBA – December 12th

We notched our second straight NBA cover with a little help from Ryan Anderson in overtime.  The sharp-shooter struggled in regulation but found the range in overtime scoring eight points and pushing the Pelicans to a five-point home win.

In other NBA action, if you stayed up for the end of the Warriors vs. Mavericks game, you got a treat.  Dallas had the game under control the entire second half until a furious Warriors rally was capped by a Steph Curry pump-faked, step-through, game-winner with 1.3 seconds to go.  It was a thrilling reminder of how dangerous Golden State can be in the playoffs, assuming they get there, with their ability to go solar-hot and blister the nets like no other team in the league.  It was great stuff to see unfold live.

OK, it’s Thursday, which means it’s a pretty limited slate of NBA action.  I generally feel a little more confident in my picks when I have a nice big pile of games to sort through to find the weakest and most advantageous line – when there is only two, you have to be a little more discerning.  I don’t think either game is a gimme tonight, but there is one line I like and will have a small play going tonight.

Let’s dig into tonight’s free pick.

Houston Rockets at Portland Trailblazers -3 (Total: 212.5)

There may not be many games on the NBA slate, but at least there is a fantastic one to cap it off.  The Blazers are a fantastic 18-4 this season, and have only lost two games at home.  One of those was earlier this season, 116-101, to the Houston Rockets.  They’ll get a chance to avenge the loss tonight, and I think they’ll come out sharp.

Houston has won two games in a row and seven of their last nine.  The concern of whether Harden and Howard can play together has very quietly started to go away; sometimes that is how it is with media-driven stories – they are fun to talk about until they aren’t anymore.  That seems to be the case here.  You aren’t hearing a lot of “you know, Houston could win this thing” stories but you aren’t hearing about the drama either.  That’s a good thing if you are a Rocket fan.

Statistically, both teams are fantastic.  The Rockets are averaging a league-high 107.5 points per game.  Portland is a third best +9.3ppg differential.  It seems like that would be a good recipe for a high-scoring affair.  And it very well might be, but at 212.5 it’s a pretty high total to get over from a wagering perspective.

Tonight has a “big-game” feel to it.  Big games tend to bring out a little better defensive effort in NBA teams.  I’ll bank on just enough defense to keep this total under the 212 threshold.

Free Pick:  Total POINTS UNDER 212.5