The first of two games on ESPN on Friday night has the Philadelphia 76ers visiting the Houston Rockets. The 76ers got a big win last week against Milwaukee, but then went on the road and couldn’t follow up that win, as they were beaten in Florida by Orlando and Miami. On the other side, the Rockets have benefited lately from a soft schedule, but they did have to play Denver on Tuesday and now they get the 76ers on Friday. Let’s look at the matchup for Friday and NBA picks.
This NBA regular season game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets will be held at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas at 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, January 3, 2020. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
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76ers Continue to be Inconsistent
The 76ers are a maddening team to follow. They got a huge win last week against the top team in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks, but then went on the road to Florida and lost two tough games to Orlando and Miami. There is no denying that the 76ers have a lot of talent, as they have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford and Tobias Harris. The problem for the 76ers is that far too often they have lapses that cost them games. Philadelphia is playing good enough defense, as they rank 4th in the NBA in fewest points allowed, but the 76ers are hit and miss on offense, as they rank 17th in points per game. Opposing teams have discovered that if they play zone defense they can force the 76ers into bad shots and there are times during some games where Philadelphia goes cold.
Houston Team Notes
The Rockets are one of the higher scoring teams in the league and a poor defensive team, but that doesn’t mean they always go over the total. Houston is averaging 119 points per game, which is 2nd in the league, but they are giving up 114 points per game, which is 23rd in the league. Houston went under the total in 19 of their first 32 games, with just 13 games going over the total. The Rockets get plenty of scoring out of James Harden, who is averaging over 38 points per game, and they also are getting plenty from Westbrook, as he averages 24 points per contest. They are not getting much from any other player, as no other player averages more than 14 points per game.
Houston has won 8 of the last 10 in this series, with six of the last ten going under the total. The teams met twice last season with each team winning at home. The Rockets have won 7 of the last 10 in Houston, but they are just 5-5 ATS, with six of the last ten going over the total.
Both teams had Wednesday and Thursday off, so neither team has an advantage in terms of rest. The 76ers have not played well on the road for the most part this season, but Houston is not a reliable home favorite. I will avoid a side and look at the total. The 76ers are one of the top defensive teams in the league and despite having one of the best offenses in the league; the Rockets have actually been a good team to bet under the total. Both teams should be motivated to play defense in this marquee matchup, so I will go under the total in this game on Friday night.
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