Welcome to the Friday, March 8 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 we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Leans/Picks: 48-34-1 (.585)
Moneyline: 26-9 (.750)
Over/Under: 18-12-1 (.600)
3/8/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Philadelphia 76ers (41-24) vs. Houston Rockets (39-25)
The 76ers have been forced to prove their mettle as a legitimate playoff contender during the ongoing absence of star big man Joel Embiid (knee). Embiid has missed the last seven games, and Philadelphia has scuffled its way to a 4-3 record. However, the Sixers have played admirably in two of those losses, dropping those decisions by a combined four points to the Warriors and Bulls. Philadelphia has seen a slight offensive downturn in Embiid’s absence, but that was to be expected. Philly is averaging a solid 111.1 points per game without Embiid, compared to their 115.4 seasonal figure.
One of the reasons the Sixers have been able to tread water while enduring such a key loss is how well they’ve insulated their roster against injury since the season began. A mid-November trade with the Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler was the first domino to fall in that regard. Butler is averaging 18.6 points (on 47.2 percent shooting), 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.9 steals in 43 games with Philadelphia. Then, the Sixers shored up a hole in their first unit with the trade-deadline acquisition of Tobias Harris. The floor-spacing big has posted 20.8 points (on 51.2 percent shooting), 7.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists across 11 games since arriving from the Clippers.
Philadelphia has been a solid road team this season as well. The Sixers sport a 16-15 mark away from their home floor of Wells Fargo Center. They’ve toppled some quality squads on the road, too. Most recently, Philly beat the OKC Thunder by a 108-104 score on Feb. 28 in one of the games they played without Embiid. Then, Philadelphia has also notched road wins over the Warriors, Pacers (twice), Clippers, Jazz, Pistons, and Nets in terms of teams with winning records at the moment. The Sixers are averaging a respectable 112.1 points per road tilt as well while shooting 46.0 percent.
The Rockets come into Friday’s interconference showdown with an impressive six-game winning streak in tow. And Houston has been highly effective on their home floor of Toyota Center — 22-9. However, Houston hasn’t sealed home victories by the size of Friday’s spread very often this season. Exactly half of their 22 home victories have been by Friday’s eight-point spread or less. Then, nine of the Rockets’ 22 Toyota Center triumphs have come versus teams with winning records. However, Houston is just 4-5 against Friday’s eight-point spread in those contests.
A couple of other factors bear note regarding a Sixers cover. One is the fact the Rockets have actually been a more vulnerable defense at home. Houston is yielding 112.4 points per home contest, a full three points more than they surrender when traveling. That’s largely the byproduct of the Rockets allowing the third-highest home shooting percentage (47.8) in the league, including the fifth highest three-point percentage (35.9).
Then, there’s the matter of the one prior meeting between the teams this season. The Sixers lambasted the Rockets by a 121-93 score on Jan. 21. Philadelphia held Houston to 36.0 percent shooting in that game, including 26.2 percent from three-point range. While James Harden did pour in 37 points, the only other double-digit scorers for the Rockets came off the bench: Gerald Green (18 points) and Kenneth Faried (13 points). Notably, Faried will miss Friday’s game with a hip injury. Granted, the Rockets were without both Chris Paul and Clint Capela in that prior contest. But the Sixers played without Butler and Harris, making the absences more or less a wash.
By The Numbers
The 76ers are 19-17 (52.8 percent) against the spread when playing with one day of rest. Philadelphia is also 14-12 (53.8 percent) versus the spread in non-conference games and 15-8 (65.2 percent) against the number in games following a loss.
The Rockets are 29-33-2 (46.8 percent) against the spread overall this season, including 13-13-1 (50.0 percent) as a home favorite. Houston is also 6-8 (42.9 percent) versus the number when playing on two or three days of rest, 10-14-1 (41.7 percent) against the spread in interconference games and 17-19-2 (47.2 percent) in games following a win.
The Final Word
The Rockets are the more rested team here and playing at home, but Houston hasn’t always been able to gain separation at Toyota Center. The 76ers have proven resilient without Embiid in the lineup, as even two of the three games they’ve lost during the big man’s current absence have been by a margin considerably lower than Friday’s spread. If the number was halved, I’d certainly lean toward the Rockets’ side of the equation. However, with eight points a rather sizable figure, I’m leaning toward Philly sliding under it.
The Lean: 76ers +8