Free NBA Picks: Rockets at Bucks Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/7/2014
The NBA's worst record ever over a non-lockout season was by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-73. That club, whose "star" was Fred Carter, put up 104.1 points per game. That sounds pretty good, but all teams scored back then. It was 13th of 17 teams. The Sixers gave up 116.2 per game, the worst in the NBA. I wonder if you could stage a best-of-five series if that club could beat the 2012-13 Milwaukee Bucks
I doubt it simply because players are bigger and faster these days. Plus, you have the international component. But these Bucks are bad, scoring 92.2 ppg (29th) and allowing 101.8 (22nd) in having by far the NBA's worst record. The good news is that the Sixers' 73-loss record is safe unless Milwaukee drops its final 33 games starting Saturday night against Houston. That's obviously not going to happen. For one, the Bucks aren't THAT bad. Second, half the league it seems is tanking. Thirdly, the NBA record is only 26 consecutive losses, and it's hard to see that being broken any time soon even though it was just set by the 2010-11 post-LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Bucks really can't catch a break. Now there are reports that the presumed No. 1 overall pick in this summer's draft, Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid, who has been compared to a young Hakeem Olajuwon, might stay in school. Most times you just snicker when a kid says this, but Embiid's family is pretty well off, and he probably could use one more year of seasoning and weight training at KU before going up against the big boys. There's even talk that Duke's Jabari Parker might stay in school one more season because his two buddies – highly-touted Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor -- join the Blue Devils next season. Duke would be an overwhelming National Championship favorite should Parker stay. Just something to consider if the Blue Devils come up short this season. Parker might be the one guy who wouldn't mind playing in Milwaukee since it's so close to his Chicago hometown. I guess Milwaukee might have to settle for Andrew Wiggins, not a bad consolation prize should the Bucks win the lottery.
Rockets at Bucks Betting Story Lines
Milwaukee is 2-16 in the New Year, with both wins coming at home. Monday's 101-98 victory over the Knicks might have been the final nail in the coffin of embattled New York head coach Mike Woodson. The Bucks followed that up with a 110-100 loss in Denver on Wednesday. The Bucks were very shorthanded with only nine available players, and guard Luke Ridnour left in the second quarter with back tightness. Ersan Ilyasova also left with back pain. O.J. Mayo sat out again with some sort of weird illness, although I think the team is just tired of its big free-agent acquisition. Gary Neal sat with back spasms, and Caron Butler sat with a sprained left ankle.
On the bright side, forward John Henson returned after missing three games with a wrist injury but he was rusty, going 1-for-5 from the field with two points, five rebounds and four fouls in 17 minutes. Larry Sanders, who has been largely disappointing this season, had probably his best game of the year with 25 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. If the Bucks could get both Sanders and Henson on the court and healthy at the same time, that's a nice frontcourt, at least in terms of rebounding and defense.
Houston is playing some of its best ball of the year, having won four straight, including quality victories vs. San Antonio, at Dallas and Wednesday's 122-108 win over visiting Phoenix. Dwight Howard dominated the small Suns with 34 points and 14 rebounds, his fifth game this season with at least 30 and 10. Howard is averaging 26.0 points in the winning streak and is even making his free throws for the most part (64.5 percent, which is quite good for him). Houston's 11-for-16 effort from 3-point range against Phoenix was its best of the season.
There's news that Houston could get Omer Asik back soon. It won't be Saturday, but the team is hoping the backup center can return in a week. He went through his first full workout Thursday since suffering a thigh injury in early December. It looks like the Rockets will be stuck with the unhappy Asik as he's untradeable at the moment unless Houston takes back a bad contract. I'm just spitballing here, but why not call Detroit and offer Asik (and whatever filler) for Josh Smith? The Pistons want out of that deal, only have to put up with Asik’s salary through next season, and Houston looked into signing Smith this offseason. He's Howard's buddy and a good player when motivated. A Howard/Smith frontcourt could be devastating.
Rockets at Bucks NBA Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Houston opened as a 10.5-point favorite with a total of 207.5. The Rockets are 26-22-2 against the spread (11-11 on road) and 23-25-2 "over/under" (12-9-1 on road). The Bucks are 18-31 ATS (7-16 at home) and 26-23 O/U (11-12 at home). The Rockets are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a win. The Bucks are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game. The under is 13-3 in Houston's past 16 playing on two days of rest. The under is 6-0-1 in Milwaukee's past seven home games against teams with a winning road record. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.
Free NBA Picks: Rockets at Bucks Betting Predictions
When these teams met Jan. 18 in Houston, the Rockets won 114-104 as 13.5-point favorites. Houston scored the first six points and never trailed. Terrence Jones led the Rockets with a career-high 36 points and 11 rebounds. Howard had 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Henson had 20 points and 15 boards for Milwaukee.
The Bucks' backcourt is so weak right now that Nate Wolters is starting. Who guards James Harden? He will eat the lunch of Wolters or Brandon Knight. So while I think the Rockets won't be ultra-motivated here, they should barely cover. Take the over.
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