NBA Betting Preview - Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers (Friday 7:00 ET)
By Matt Fargo
To the Pacers credit, they have played the top ranked schedule in the NBA this season and that is part of the reason for their 15-27 record. 24 of their 42 games have been played on the road and that also takes that schedule ranking into consideration.
However, Indiana is just 9-9 at home so the home court really is not that big of an advantage. This includes a 4-5 record against winning teams which is decent but far from solid.
Indiana is 4-12 against teams ranked within the top ten and it is one of only 10 teams in the league that has at least 12 losses against that competition. For the most part, the Pacers have been competitive but that is where it ends. Incredibly, nearly half of their games have come down to one possession.
They have the most losses by three points or fewer, going 5-9 in such games and they have the most overtime losses, going 1-4 in extra session games. So basically, 18 of the Pacers' first 42 games have been decided by either a final possession or tied at the end of regulation.
They are only 6-12 in those games. So that means don't be surprised to see yet another close game and here we catch a price that is within that range.
Houston hits the road and it has been rolling even with injuries to Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest. The Rockets have won three straight games and six of their last seven to keep pace in the crowded Southwest Division where only 4.5 games separate four teams.
The most amazing thing about that is Dallas, which is the 4th place team, is in 9th position in the Western Conference playoff race. Only 4.5 games separates 2nd and 9th place.
Houston is in better shape, only two games behind San Antonio and currently sitting in 5th place in the conference. Obviously the Rockets are far from safe and these games against the Eastern Conference cannot be taken lightly.
Houston is a very average 9-7 against the opposing conference this season including a 1-4 mark in its last five road games. However, four of those were against teams currently in playoff positions and Indiana is far from there.
This is also a revenge game for the Rockets, who lost at home to the Pacers early in the season and that was one of only five home losses for Houston and one of only six road wins for Indiana.
The Rockets will not be looking past this team. Offensively, Indiana is one of the better scoring teams in the league, averaging 104.2 ppg.
The Pacers are coming off an 81-point effort in San Antonio, the first time they have been held to fewer than 100 points in 14 games and it won't get easier tonight. Houston is allowing only 94.4 ppg on the season and even without Artest, it has allowed fewer than 100 points in four of the six games he has been absent.
The Rockets are 8th in the NBA in scoring defense and their 96 ppg allowed on the road is 7th best in the NBA. Indiana managed only 91 points in the first meeting which is just the 7th time in the last 31 games it has been held below the century mark.
Defensively, the Pacers are horrid, allowing 106.7 ppg which is the third most points allowed in the league. The 105.7 ppg allowed at home is the 4th highest as well.
The Pacers force only 13.9 turnovers per game and that is big as Houston is 21-3 ATS in its last 24 games in the second half of the season against teams forcing fewer than 14 turnovers per game.
Houston is 10-2 ATS in the second half of the season over the last three years against teams that are winning between 25 and 40 percent of their games. Conversely the Pacers are 2-9 ATS in the second half of the season over the last three years against teams that are winning between 60 and 70 percent of their games.
The revenge aspect cannot be overlooked at Houston falls into a great situation. Play on all teams that have won between 60 and 75 percent of their games where the line is +3 to -3 that are revenging a straight up loss against an opponent as a home favorite and now has a losing record.
This situation is 36-12 ATS (75 percent) since 1996.
Look for the Rockets to get that revenge tonight and all we need is an outright win to get the cover.
Pick: Houston Rockets PK (-110) available at Bookmaker.com.
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