The Houston Rockets (23-11) and Philadelphia 76ers (23-13) are set to meet for the first time this season Friday in what should be an exciting matchup. The 76ers are running cold heading into this road trip while the Rockets are looking to win a second straight game and continue their excellence at home.
Houston guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden are back on track after taking the night off against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and returned to peak form the following game. The Rockets offense is adjusting now that Eric Gordon is back after missing an extended period of time while recovering from a knee injury. Philadelphia has lost three straight games and didn’t have Joel Embiid (knee soreness) for its latest defeat. But the big man isn’t expected to miss a second straight contest. Let’s take a look at some lines on DraftKings Sportsbook:
76ers vs. Rockets spread, over/under, money line
Spread: 76ers (+4.5)
Moneyline: 76ers (+163), Rockets (-195)
The Rockets are offensive juggernauts and should benefit from playing at Toyota Center in this matchup. Houston dominated a Denver Nuggets defense that’s nothing to scoff at on Tuesday by scoring 130 points. This game should hit the OVER. Even though Philadelphia has seen a drop in scoring over the course of its three-game losing streak, the Rockets have an average defense with no answer for Embiid. Houston has won three consecutive home games though and should extend that streak to four.
Prediction: Rockets 120, 76ers 115
James Harden records double-double (+240)
Harden might not be recording double-doubles as frequently as he used to, but we think there’s a good chance he’ll get one against Philadelphia. The scoring is a given for the him, but whether he can have an above average night as a rebounder or distributor will make all the difference. Harden has notched doubles-doubles in two of his last three games but will face a 76ers team that has an abundance of length. Harden, being the willing passer he is, could be forced to defer to his teammates on drives because of the elite rim protection of Embiid and other 76ers. We feel like he’s more likely to excel as a passer in this situation.
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