Welcome to the Friday, 10/26/18 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Picks: 3-3 (.500)
ATS Leans: 3-0 (1.000)
Moneyline: 2-0 (1.000)
10/26/18 NBA Betting Pick:
Los Angeles Clippers (2-2) at Houston Rockets (1-3)
Over/Under Total: 218.0
The Clippers have broken even over their first four games. They’ve notched wins over two Western Conference powerhouses: the Thunder and the very same Rockets squad they’ll face again Friday. However, they come into tonight’s meeting having just dropped a 116-109 decision to the high-octane Pelicans on Tuesday night. They do have a fully healthy roster at present, with Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari clearly their top options to start the season.
On their end, the Rockets are having some trouble getting their five best players on the court in the early going of the new season. Chris Paul does return from a two-game suspension Friday. However, as one All-Star guard returns, another exits stage left. James Harden will miss Friday’s game with the Grade-1 hamstring strain he suffered Wednesday versus the Jazz. The Beard’s injury is just the latest misfortune to befall Houston over the first week-plus of the season. They’ll enter Friday having dropped two straight and three of the first four overall.
If both squads were at full health, the Rockets undoubtedly boast the upper hand. The Big Three of Paul, Harden, and Clint Capela is unmatched on the other side. Yet Harden’s absence naturally leaves a gargantuan void in the Houston offense. Then, there are Paul’s struggles against his former team to consider. He averaged a modest 12.7 points (on 33.3 percent shooting), 6.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds over three such games last year. Eric Gordon will make a fine fill-in for Harden. Yet he can’t approximate his teammate’s skill level or impact on a game. Moreover, starting small forward James Ennis will also miss Friday’s game. His absence likely pushes either Carmelo Anthony or Gerald Green into the starting five. Either’s inclusion into the first unit weakens the bench.
Meanwhile, Harris, whose 23.5 points and 8.5 rebounds pace the Clippers, thrived in this matchup last season. He posted 26.7 points (on 54.5 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent from three-point range), 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals (three games). Gallinari did not face the Rockets last season because of injury, but he’s opened the campaign averaging 21.5 points (on 47.6 percent shooting, including 43.5 percent from three-point range), 7.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Then, Patrick Beverley began the season with monumental shooting struggles, but he bounced back in his last game with a 12-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist performance.
By the Numbers: The Clippers were 24-16-1 (60.0 percent) against the spread as a road team last season, including 15-13-1 (53.6 percent) as an away underdog. They were also 9-6 (60.0 percent) last season when playing on at least two days’ rest.
The Rockets were 22-28-1 (44.0 percent) against the spread as a home team last season, including 21-26-1 (44.7 percent) as a home favorite. They’re also 0-2 as a home favorite thus far this season.
The Final Word: Harden’s absence makes the three-point spread in favor of the Rockets enticing. They’ve struggled no matter who’s been on the floor so far this season. That figures to only persist with the perennial MVP candidate off the floor. The Clippers have all their weapons at their disposal, and it’s worth noting they notched a 10-point win at Toyota Center last season. They also boast some nice offensive balance between their first unit and bench. Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and emerging rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander offer instant offense when the starters take a seat. The combination of a short-handed Houston team and Los Angeles’ solid mix of defense and scoring upside helps the Clippers cover.
The Pick: Clippers +3