Monday, November 25th, 2013
The Rockets head into Monday Night’s affair with the Grizzlies without their leading scorer, James Harden.
Houston looked fine without Harden’s firepower in the box score in Saturday’s home win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rockets looked impressive in the 112-101 win. It was their second games without Harden. They lost their previous contest with him sidelined, a November 13th overtime loss at Philadelphia.
Aaron Brooks stepped up big in Saturday’s game, scoring a season-high 26 points off the bench. Harden saw a doctor on Saturday, and is likely to miss tonight’s game, as well. Their win against Minnesota put them at 9-5 on the season.
The Grizzlies are also without their superstar and reigning defensive player of the year in Marc Gasol. The center tore his ACL in 102-86 loss against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. The game dropped Memphis to 7-6 on the season.
Gasol is out indefinitely. His presence offensively and on the glass will be missed, but his real value comes in defensively. He leads the Grizzlies in blocks with just over one per game. Memphis has been one of the best defensive teams against scoring in the paint so far this season.
This line is curious, almost like the oddsmakers are begging bettors to take the Rockets. The matchup for Dwight Howard just got a lot better with the injury to Gasol, but I like Memphis in this spot. They have played much better basketball as of a late and should rally behind each other in their first game without their All-Star center.
Also, let’s not forget the Rockets are without their leading scorer in Harden, and the Grizz’s home crowd should be behind them after a successful road trip.
Pick: Memphis +2 with Bovada
The Pacers welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves as they search for their best start in franchise history.
Indiana has been the league’s most dominant team this season, boasting a 12-1 record (tied with the Spurs for the best) and the league’s most suffocating defense. Indiana is limiting opponents to fewer than 83 points per game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers won a 103-98 game on Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Roy Hibbert went off for a season-high 27 points, 13 rebounds and a whopping six blocks in the win. The 98 points scored by the Sixers was a season-high total for a visiting opponent this season.
The Wolves have come back to earth after a strong straight to the year and have struggled on the road. Minnesota is just 2-5 on the road this season; they struggled again on Saturday in a 112-101 at Houston. Kevin Love was big in the loss, scoring 27 points and adding 15 rebounds.
Indiana pulled off a victory against the 76ers but looked out of sorts defensively in the loss. I think they get back to basics in this one and to what works for them at home. The Wolves have a formidable core of scorers, but with their recent struggles on the road, it is hard to trust them to put up decent numbers from the field, especially against the Pacers relentless defensive pressure.
I’m still not too comfortable taking the Pacers in this spot because their slow pace is not conducive to blowouts or double-digit wins, but I love this under in this one. I don’t think this game will get above 185 points.
Pick: Under 193.5 with Bovada
The Celtics and Bobcats face off in a game of two new-look franchises who are building toward the future, but may have surprises in the for the league this year.
Charlotte is 7-7 on the year, which is actually impressive for one of the worst teams of last year’s campaign. They also stand to be a lot better once they get Al Jefferson back to 100 percent. The big offseason signing has been hampered with injuries all season.
He came back two games ago after a four game absence and notched 19 points with 7 rebounds. Jefferson contributed to a win in that game, a 96-72 victory at the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bobcats have won two out of their last three games. They have won four out of their last five games on the road. However, they have lost four of out five at home.
The Celtics also have plenty of fresh faces this year, but the most familiar one has been Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. Green and Bass led the Celtics in scoring in a 94-87 win against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, which snapped a six game losing streak for the Celtics to improve their record to 5-10.
The Celtics are a feisty bunch, but in this one they are simply overmatched. The Bobcats have been playing terrific ball lately, and though they have been poor at home, Boston is a great opponent for them to tee off on. They will also be without rookie center Kelly Olynyk and will have no one who can check Al Jefferson in the paint. The Bobcats will win the rebounding margin by a lot and should have no issues dominating the other aspects of the game.
Pick: Bobcats -3.5 with Bovada
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