Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers – NBA, February 17, 2021

By Dean McHugh in NBA
| February 17, 2021 5:23 am PDT

The top of the Atlantic Division Philadelphia, host the bottom of the Southwest Division Houston, in this East meets West clash. The Rockets need to start, well, rocketing up the leader board if they are to make the playoffs this season. The 76ers are sitting pretty at the top of a congested Eastern Conference, so they can ill afford to take their foot off the gas.

The recent head-to-head record in the previous six games is split, with each team winning three matches each. Oddly, Houston has had the better of things in Philadelphia, winning on four of their last five visits. However, their last win came in 2017, and a lot has changed since then.

Although the Rockets have had the better of things over their previous ten meetings, they have both averaged precisely 109 points per game. This suggests that when the 76ers have won, it has come via a wider margin.

Here is my Rockets vs. 76ers betting preview.

Rockets vs. 76ers Odds

Rockets (+10.5) -110
76ers (-10.5) -110
Rockets To Win +460
76ers To Win -620
Over 225.5 Points -110
Under 225.5 Points -110

My initial thoughts are that both the spread and the total points look a couple of points on the high side. Let’s break things down and see if that is the case or not.

Rockets Preview

The Rockets are on their worst run of the season, having lost their previous six games in a row. Perhaps more worryingly is the fact they have taken some big hidings during those defeats. They also haven’t faced a team anywhere near the caliber of their opponents tonight.

Their form on the road has not been good as they have won only six of their 16 away fixtures. This includes losing the last four by margins of 25, 29, 22, and 12 points.

Here are the latest betting trends for Houston:

Against The Spread
  • The Rockets have lost their last six games in a row.
  • They have only won two of their previous seven matches against the 76ers.
  • Houston is 1-5 in their last six games on the road.
  • In Philadelphia, they have only won one of their previous eight visits.

The above highlights their struggles of late and how they have been throwing the towel in far too early in their defeats, often showing minimal fight.

Points Total
  • The total has gone under in 13 of their previous 20 matches.
  • Ten of their last 14 games against teams in the Atlantic Division have gone under the betting total.

Generally, their games have been low-scoring affairs.

Other Pointers
  • The Rockets have won ten of their previous 13 matches against the 76ers.
  • They have only won one of their last five games against teams from the East Coast.

Despite all of their woes this season, they can still take encouragement from their excellent record against Philadelphia.

The Rockets have a poor offense this season that hasn’t shot very well, especially from three-point range where they are only making one in every three shots.

They haven’t used the ball very well and have made many turnovers this season. Houston will need to use what little possession they get against the 76ers much better than they have been.

Thankfully, they have a good defense that is well organized and marks their opponents exceptionally well. However, their rebounding has been lacking and will need to improve tonight if they are even to get close to the 76ers.

With the Rockets season falling apart and missing out on a playoff spot becoming an increasing reality, they have turned to NBA G League player Ray Spalding to help get them out of this slump. It’s a move that reeks of desperation, but at least they are trying to do something to get their season back on track.

It’s probably no coincidence that their poor form has coincided with losing many players to injury recently. They will be without Exum and Wood, while Tucker, Gordon, and Oladipo are doubtful.

76ers Preview

The 76ers are also going through one of their worst periods right now, having lost their last three games in a row. However, unlike the Rockets, all three losses came against good teams who are inside the top five of the Western Conference.

All three of those defeats came on the road, so they will welcome returning to Philadelphia, where they have the best record in the Eastern Conference, having won 11 of their 13 games this season. They have won six of their previous seven home fixtures.

Here are the latest betting trends for Philadelphia:

Against The Spread
  • The 76ers are 2-4 in their previous six games.
  • They have only won five of their last 20 games against teams based in the Southwest Division.

This highlights their poor form as of late and perhaps what a hard time the bookmarks have given them as they set some large handicap targets.

Points Total
  • Six of their last eight games have gone over the betting total.
  • Only one of their previous six games against Houston has failed to go under the points total.
  • The total has gone over in four of their last five matches against teams from the West Coast.

Their games have been high-scoring this season, but that hasn’t been the case against the Rockets recently.

The 76ers have a good offense that likes to take the ball as close to the basket as possible, often using drives to score their points. This means that they have a good field goal percentage, but their rate from the three-point range is not good.

They do suffer from complacency, however, which can often lead to them making many turnovers. Given their poor form as of late, you would think that this shouldn’t affect them at present. Philadelphia is also good at winning the ball back, so this hasn’t been too much of an issue and shouldn’t be against a team that doesn’t use the ball well like the Rockets.

Their attack has been more potent at home, averaging four more points per game, making the task even more difficult for the Rockets.

Their defense is decent and plays a similar way to their offense in that they defend their basket deep, which helps them improve their defensive rebounding. It does leave them open against teams that shoot well from distance, but that shouldn’t be a problem against Houston.

They also make many blocks per game, having the third-highest average in the league this season.

Joel Embiid is currently having the season of his life and is up on nearly all of his career stats. He is averaging five points more per game and has improved his shooting dramatically. He missed the game against the Jazz last time out but is expected to return tonight.

In his absence, Ben Simmons took the responsibility on his shoulders to pick up the scoring void, and he certainly did not shy away from the task as he scored a career-high 42 points against the Jazz. It remains to be seen if he can continue this form over the coming weeks and into the playoffs.

Milton is the only confirmed absentee for the 76ers as he is out with an ankle injury.

Rockets vs. 76ers Betting Pick

If the Rockets had a fully fit or close to fully fit team, I would have been tempted to take them with the handicap tonight, especially as the 76ers have struggled recently in their last three games. Given both team’s poor form, it could be a cagey affair with both teams taking a cautious approach. Their combined average points total over their previous ten meetings is 218 points. I will therefore pick under the points total tonight.

Pick
  • Under 225.5 Points
    -110

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