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Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets Betting Preview

Once upon a time, you could view both the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets as online betting contenders but now they are both steering in different directions. The Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are taking it easy atop the Western Conference while James Harden’s Rockets flounder.

The Lakers are fresh off their NBA Championship and are once again favourites to win it, per NBA betting odds. On the flipside, Houston has started making NBA news for all the wrong reasons, including the ongoing drama with a disgruntled Harden.

Getty Images via AFP

Both teams met at Houston’s Toyota Center this Sunday and it was a blowout in favour of the Lakers. Both statistics and recent betting trends indicate the Lakers to be yet another favourable team for our NBA picks, but Houston shouldn’t be entirely slept on.

Lakers vs Rockets Betting Preview: Quick Look

Lakers: LeBron and AD cruising

James may still be gaining most of the headlines in L.A., but Davis is arguably the team’s most important player. Against the undersized Rockets, he will have a repeat performance from Sunday where he dropped 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Davis paced the Lakers, who shot 50.5 percent from the field. The Rockets had no answer for AD. He scored at will and the Lakers ran away with the game as early as the first-half.

James was “quiet” but still chipped in 18 points, seven boards, and seven assists. He led the playmaking with center Marc Gasol who added seven assists of his own.

Even more alarming for their opponents is how the Lakers have effortlessly compiled an 8-3 record with James and Davis being in cruise control. The additions of guard Dennis Schröder, forward Montrezl Harrell, and Gasol are paying dividends.

Rockets: Harden Must Awaken

Whether it’s a sign of his discontent or just a slump, “The Beard” has felt more like a stubble lately. Harden has been averaging 17.8 points on 39.7 percent shooting. More eyebrow-raising is his 4.8 free throw attempts per game during this span.

While Harden has contributed elsewhere (11 assists, 1.3 blocks), the Rockets would like to have the real him back as they have only gone 1-3 during this span with their sole win coming against the reeling Magic.

Forward-center Christian Wood and guard John Wall have picked up the slack. Wood is in contention for Most Improved Player, averaging 23.3 points, 9.7 boards, and 1.9 blocks. Wall is averaging 20 points to go with 5.2 assists and 5.5 rebounds.

Beyond the three of them, Houston is in dire need of help. Guards Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore need to step up and so does center DeMarcus Cousins. But overall, they will need Harden to return to his MVP form if they want to hang with L.A.

Game Preview: Lakers with an Encore in Houston

The Lakers are poised to beat the Rockets for a second consecutive time in Houston. Chalk it up with your favourite sportsbook. L.A. has won  five straight times against Houston, dating back to September of last season.

The Rockets are 3-2 at home but are failing to convert on their three-pointers. At 34.3 percent, they rank 24th in the league compared to the Lakers at 38.5 percent (6th). This has been a big factor in the Lakers beating Houston, along with winning the turnover battle.

Another big edge for the Lakers is their overall defense. The Rockets lack the impact in the middle the Lakers have. Houston allows almost 113 points per contest (20th) and surrenders 46 rebounds on average (19th).

The Lakers not only have Davis. Gasol’s addition has helped stabilize their interior while Harrell is a high-energy big man off the bench who can score 15 points in a pinch. Wood will get his stats for the Rockets, but unless Harden goes nuclear and the Rockets optimize their offense, the Lakers will once again dictate this contest.

Pick: Los Angeles Lakers to cover 5.5 (-115)

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