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Welcome to the Thursday, January 3, 2019 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 SportsbookFanDuel Sportsbook888 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 we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.

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Season to Date:

ATS Picks: 20-14 (.588)

ATS Leans: 7-7-1 (.500)

Moneyline: 12-5 (.706)

Over/Under: 9-3 (.750)

1/3/19 NBA Betting Pick:

Houston Rockets (21-15) vs. Golden State Warriors (25-13)

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -8
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -8.5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -8
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Warriors -8

Over/Under Total: 225.5

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The Breakdown

A Rockets-Warriors clash is a marquee affair any time it unfolds, given both the star power and recent history. Houston will admittedly be a bit short-handed in the former category Thursday. Chris Paul continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury. And valued sixth man Eric Gordon will also sit with a knee issue. However, James Harden (career-best 33.3 PPG) is once again playing at an MVP level. Clint Capela (career-high 17.0 PPG and 12.5 RPG) has taken yet another step toward elite status thus far this season.

Then, Houston hasn’t exactly shrunk in the presence of the Warriors. They split their 10 games against Golden State last regular season and postseason. Two of their five victories came at Oracle Arena, the site of Thursday’s showdown. The Rockets also came out on top in convincing fashion in the one prior meeting this season. Houston notched a 107-86 home win over the defending champions on Nov. 15. Stephen Curry was sidelined for that contest with a groin injury, however.

The Rockets have also displayed an impressive ability to win without Paul in the lineup. The All-Star guard has missed the last five games with his hamstring issue. Yet Houston comes into Thursday’s game having rattled off six straight wins. And their scorching run actually extends much further — the Rockets have emerged victorious in 10 of the last 11 contests overall. That stretch includes a 2-1 road mark. The one loss came by just two points to the Heat. Of Houston’s 10 road stumbles this season, six have been by less than Thursday’s 8.5-point spread.

Moreover, the Rockets sport one of the stingiest road defenses in the NBA. Houston’s 106.6 points allowed per away contest represents a notable reduction from the 110.0 points per game they surrender at home. It’s also the sixth-lowest away figure in the NBA. The Rockets have yielded between 99 and 104 points in their aforementioned last three road tilts. They also allow an NBA-low 31.9 percent success rate from distance on the road. That bodes well for their chances against a Golden State team that puts up 32.5 three-point shots per contest.

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Meanwhile, the Warriors have looked positively human this season, even as they still lay claim to being one of the top teams in the NBA. The defending champions have been surprisingly vulnerable at home. Golden State comes into Thursday’s contest with a rare two-game home losing streak. And they’ve dropped five games at Oracle Arena overall. Additionally, seven of their home wins have been by less than Thursday’s spread.

Golden State is actually scoring a point less per home game (115.3) than on the road. They’re also yielding a healthy 111.2 points per game on their home floor. Then, the Warriors are a tick less accurate shooting-wise at Oracle (47.6 percent, as opposed to 48.9 percent on the road) while yielding a slightly higher success rate from the floor (45.3 percent, compared to 44.8 percent on the road). The latter figure is partly the byproduct of Golden State being more vulnerable to three-point shooting at home. The Warriors are allowing 34.5 percent of shots from behind the arc to find the net at Oracle, a slight bump from the 33.1 percent mark they allow on the road.

By the Numbers

The Rockets are 18-17-1 (51.4 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes a 12-11-1 (52.2 percent) mark versus the number in conference games and a 12-7-1 tally (63.2 percent) against the spread after a win.

The Warriors are 16-22 (42.1 percent) versus the spread overall this season. That includes an 8-12 mark (40.0 percent) against the number as a home team and an 8-11 tally (42.1 percent) as home favorites. Golden State is also an NBA-worst 8-16 (33.3 percent) versus the spread in conference games, 3-5 (37.5 percent) against the number when playing on 2-3 days’ rest, and 11-13 (45.8 percent) versus the spread after a win.

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The Final Word

The Rockets are in their best stretch of the season and have the confidence to come into Oracle Arena and remain competitive for all four quarters. That’s the case despite their short-handed backcourt. Then, the Rockets’ victory over the Warriors this season, coupled with their five total wins over the defending champs during last regular season and postseason, gives them a psychological boost going into this contest.

The Warriors have struggled to dominate on their home floor compared to past seasons. They’ve actually dropped three of their past five games at Oracle. While they naturally could forge a win in this spot, the spread appears a bit elevated given all the factors just cited. Consequently, I’m leaning toward the Rockets at least sliding in under the number.

The Lean: Rockets +8.5

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