Rockets at Pelicans Free Monday Play

On January 25, 2016, in Free Picks, NBA, by Stephen

Rockets plus 4 1/2 at Pelicans

The Pelicans still hold out hope of getting the No. 8 seed in the West. So far they are taking advantage of a prolonged homestand to play their finest ball going 5-1 in their last six games, including winning three in a row.

So why step in against them with a Houston team minus injured center Dwight Howard, who might have been able to neutralize Anthony Davis?

Because the Rockets still have plenty of talent, a stronger bench than the Pelicans and can’t afford to lose this matchup with road games looming on Wednesday against the Spurs and Friday versus the Thunder.

Oh, and the Pelicans also are bogus.

New Orleans, 11 games below .500, still isn’t up to par physically with Eric Gordon sidelined with a broken finger. The Pelicans have won their past four home contests. In those games, though, the Pelicans defeated the injury-depleted Hornets by two points, the poorly-coached, unable-to-finish games Timberwolves, the road-weary Pistons and the inconsistent Bucks. The Rockets are a step above those flawed teams.

The Pelicans haven’t been able to overcome their many injuries because they lack depth. That’s not the case with Houston. The Rockets upgraded their bench by bringing back Josh Smith, who has looked good in his two games since coming from the Clippers. The Rockets have the defensive versatility to keep Davis in check. The Pelicans rank 25th in points allowed and 24th in 3-point defense. They’re going to have problems handling James Harden.

After a slow start and coaching change, the Rockets have come on to go 24-22 on the season with eight wins in their last 11 games. During their last four road games, the Rockets lost to the hot Clippers in overtime, rolled past the Lakers by 17, defeated the Grizzlies by 16 and knocked off the Jazz. The Rockets should not be this high of underdogs against this opponent.

(Editor’s note: Stephen Nover is having a monster January going 22-11-1 on his NBA premium and free plays, including 9-2 on his last 11.)


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