Rockets vs. Suns Odds
Odds via DraftKings. Game tips at 10 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
The popular narratives for this matchup go something like this:
Jalen Green has been sensational! (The Rockets are terrible.)
The Suns have championship expectations! (The Suns have been disappointing early.)
Houston has so many weapons! (The Rockets are 29th in adjusted offensive rating.)
Phoenix has so many weapons! (The Suns are 21st in adjusted offensive rating.)
Let’s do this thing!
Houston Rockets: “This Is Fine Dog”
Danuel House and John Wall are out for the Rockets, Daniel Theiss and Eric Gordon are day-to-day.
Houston has made it clear right out of the gate that barring a miraculous turnaround by unforeseen forces, they will be a tanking lottery team. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are averaging over 13 3-point attempts per game and neither is shooting better than 34% on 3’s.
Houston being bad defensively would be no surprise. But its offensive struggles are shocking, and its defensive performance has been surprisingly not awful (14th in adjusted defensive rating). As a result, the Rockets are 6-1 to the under this season, and because they’re playing more grind-it-out affairs, they’re 4-3 against the spread.
Yet their margin against the spread is +0.4 because they’ve lost by double-digits in all but two games: their win over Oklahoma City and their endearing two-point loss to the Lakers earlier this week.
What’s odd is that in a league that can’t shoot right now, the Rockets are a top-10 team in spot-up efficiency. But they are 28th in jumper efficiency off the dribble, 28th in transition efficiency, and 26th shooting out of pick and roll.
Defensively, the overall numbers are well ahead of what you’d expect; the Rockets have the 10th-best halfcourt defense. Coach Stephen Silas deserves a lot of credit for getting a young, bad team to buy into principles from the jump.
That said, there will likely come a reckoning on their defensive rating. Counting on the defense to hold might be specious.
Phoenix Suns: “Kombucha Girl Meme”
Cameron Payned and Deandre Ayton are both questionable for this game with leg injuries.
The Suns have not started off… ahem… hot.
Phoenix’s signature win came in Game 2 vs. the Lakers, who continue to try and figure out how to play with Russell Westbrook. Their two other wins came vs. the respectable Cavs at the end of a long West Coast road trip and against the hapless Pelicans.
There’s nothing wrong with taking care of business and beating up on bad teams, but given the Suns’ disappointing performance in their other games against contending teams, it’s notable that they haven’t been inconsistent. They’ve been consistently underwhelming.
On the one hand, the Suns have clearly been on the bad end of shooting luck. They have the fourth-highest QSI, the differential between their opponent’s expected effective field goal percentage and actual. Their opponents have shot with the eighth-best eFG% this season, but should be closer to 21st.
That said, the Suns are also 30th in at-rim efficiency per Synergy Sports. The Suns are allowing the second-fewest points in the paint per 100 possessions, but attempts there have been efficient.
Devin Booker is shooting 41% from the field and 27% from 3. It’s been rough. This just isn’t a team you can feel super confident in right now.
Rockets vs. Suns Pick
I have a lean to the under, projecting this at 216. The Rockets’ offense is just on such a struggle right now. The Suns might drop 120 on Houston and hold them to 80, the Suns might be in a dogfight around 100. The concern is that these are two top-10 teams in pace, and Houston’s defense might be the cure for what ails Phoenix’s offense.
But, in the interest of not trying to time regression down to the day, I think there’s value on the under to 218.
I like the Rockets at double digits, but it needs to be the full 10. Houston has proven it can hang and be pesky, especially if your team is having issues of its own. (See: Lakers, Los Angeles).
The Suns, especially without Ayton and Payne, have not proven that they can cover a double-digit spread. At anything less, however, it’s a pass.
Pick: Rockets at +10 or better, lean under 218 or better