Dogs Ready to Bite the Books: Houston at Toronto
This is the time of the year in the NBA regular season where a win or loss here or there could mean the difference between home court advantage in the playoffs or making it into the postseason at all. One of the featured matchups on this Tuesday’s slate is an important inter-conference clash between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors at 8 p.m. on TNT.
I went against the Raptors in last week’s top underdog pick for Ask the Bookie and it cost me with their 118-95 romp over Boston as 3.5-point home favorites. That loss was more a product of Boston’s poor performance. The Celtics were outscored 36-13 in the second quarter and they never recovered.
This Tuesday, Houston comes to town as a likely two to three-point road underdog and I am going against the Raptors again facing a team that has finally been living up to expectations since the All-Star break.
Top Underdog Bet- Take the Rockets at Raptors
The Rockets head north of the boarder this Tuesday with a straight-up five-game winning streak. They beat Boston on Sunday 115-104 closing as two-point underdogs on the road. Houston started this winning streak by beating Golden State on the road 118-112 on Feb. 23 as a heavy 12-point road underdog. James Harden was out of the lineup to create the large spread, but the combination of Eric Gordon and Chris Paul successfully filled the void.
The Rockets are trying to battle their way to a more favorable spot in the Western Conference standings. Through 63 games, they are 38-25 straight-up and just one game behind Oklahoma City and Portland for third place.
They have been rather spotty covering the closing number with a 2-4-1 against the spread in their last seven games, but I do like the fact that Houston is 4-1 ATS in its last five games closing as an underdog. Overall, it is 12-19-1 ATS on the road this season, but it has a 2-1-1 record ATS in its last four road games.
Harden continues to be the front runner to win league MVP honors this season based on the NBA futures odds for this award. Following Sunday’s win, he stated that the Houston Rockets are “finally catching a rhythm” at the right time of the year. He also knows that a loss to Toronto on Tuesday night would be a major setback to this late-season run. We’ll have a Favorites to Win the NBA MVP article later this week, so stay tuned.
The Raptors have been able to keep Milwaukee within striking distance for the top seed in the East with a SU 9-2 run in their last 11 games. They have an overall record of 46-18 which is just 2.5 games back in the standings. The main concern betting on this team is a very costly 1-7 record ATS over Toronto’s last eight games.
That lone cover just so happened to be against Boston last week. An even bigger concern is that six of those eight games were played on its home court.
Overall, the Raptors are 26-37-1 ATS this season with a 14-19 record covering at home. They are 19-32-1 covering the closing number as favorites. The two SU losses in their last nine games came against Orlando at home on Feb. 24 and to Detroit on the road this Sunday. Toronto closed as a two-point favorite in that 112-107 loss to the Pistons.
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Ironically enough, the last time that the Raptors lost back-to-back games SU was on Jan. 25 with a 121-119 road loss to Houston as a 3.5-point favorite. This followed a 110-106 loss to Indiana as a 6.5-point road underdog.
Harden will be out to prove his point on Tuesday night and, with the help of Gordon and Paul, he should be able to keep things rolling with a SU win.
Article by Dave Schwab
Posted March 4th, 2019