NBA Betting Preview – Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

By  Jonathan Willis

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

NBA Betting Preview – Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Suddenly, there is a real debate in the race for the NBA MVP. Giannis Antetokuonmpo was a -700 favorite to defend his crown just last week, but LeBron James’ performances against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers have led to many calling for the four-time MVP to win the award once more this season. James is having an incredible year, averaging 25.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 10.6 APG, and that has led to LeBron’s MVP betting odds dropping significantly from where they were last week. He will have the opportunity to shine again on Thursday night when his Lakers take on former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets.

This game will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET on March 12, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on TNT.

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Head-To-Head Results to Date

This will be the third and final meeting between Houston and Los Angeles this season. They split the previous two meetings with each team winning in the other’s arena, so this will be the rubber match.

In mid-January, James led the Lakers past the Rockets 124-115 thanks in large part to a big third quarter. James was 13 of 25 from the floor and scored 31 points while dishing out 12 assists in the victory. Los Angeles won the game despite not having Anthony Davis available, but Houston couldn’t get any reliable scoring outside of Westbrook and Harden. Those two scored 69 points for the Rockets in the loss.

Davis returned for the second game, but the Rockets topped the Lakers despite being a moderate underdog per the NBA betting odds. Robert Covington scored 14 points in his first game with Houston, but Westbrook was the star, going 17 of 28 from the floor while scoring 41 points.

Injury Report

Houston might be without two of its reserve guards for this game. Eric Gordon has missed the last two games with a sore right knee, and he is currently considered questionable for Thursday. Ben McLemore could miss this game too, as he has missed the last two games due to illness.

Dion Waiters signed with the Lakers on March 5, but he will likely miss this game as he works his way into game shape. Alex Caruso is questionable with a hamstring injury, and both Davis and James are considered game time decisions. Davis should be heathy enough to play despite a sore left elbow, and James seems likely to rest against the Nets on Tuesday before taking part in this tilt.

Matchup to Watch

James, Davis, and Kyle Kuzma could dismantle the Rockets down low on Thursday night. While Houston looked sharp in its first two weeks without a traditional big man, the Rockets have had a tough time stopping opposing frontcourt’s over the last week. They have lost four straight games as teams like the Knicks and Magic had their way with P.J. Tucker in the low post, and the Knicks grabbed a whopping 31 more rebounds than the Rockets. James, Davis, and Kuzma are all reliable shooters, and they can use their size to abuse Tucker and Danuel House, Jr.

Game Preview

Since dealing Clint Capela, Houston has taken its three and no defense strategy to the next level. The Rockets are now averaging 44.3 three-point attempts a game, as Harden, Gordon, and Covington are all firing away with impunity. The Lakers have one of the better perimeter defenses in the NBA, allowing teams to make just 34.2 percent of their threes, so Houston could run into some trouble.

Prediction

The Lakers will be favorites in the Staples Center, and they should win by double digits against the undersized Rockets if James and Davis take the court.

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