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NBA Free Pick | Rockets vs. Lakers | Game 1

 

Itís on! The Western Conference semi-finals begin with Houston taking on the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Rockets are coming off a wild seven-game series with Oklahoma City. James Hardenís blocked shot, of all things, proved huge in a 104-102 Game 7 victory.

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While the Lakers enjoyed some time off after dispatching Portland in five games, will they have an advantage over the Rockets who had to go seven?

 


Game: Houston Rockets (48-31, 36-42-1 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (56-20, 39-36-1 ATS)

When: 9:00 PM ET, Friday, September 4, 2020

Where: AdventHealth Arena, Wesley Chapel, Florida

Current Line: LAL -6.5†††††††††† Total:226.5

TV Coverage: ESPN


 

Houston has two former MVPs in its lineup - Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden has been in a severe shooting slump, just ask the many sports blogs. He averaged 30 points a game against OKC in their series, but he shot just 31 percent from behind the arc. Harden was just 1-of-9 in Game 7.

If Hardenís woes continue, that will not bode well for Houston. The other issue is, of course, the Rockets affinity for small-ball. Jeff Green is the Rockets tallest listed starter at 6-foot-8. Robert Covington, who has been fantastic in the postseason, is just 6-7.

Covingtonís stat line is impressive: 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. His defense is outstanding as has been the case for the entire Rockets lineup. Houston held OKC under 100 points twice in their series.

The Rockets will have their hands full with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers can go small with James at the 4 and Davis at the 5, if they desire. The thing is...Houston beat L.A. in two regular season games by playing small-ball.

Hereís a question. Are teaser bets worth the juice?

Also of note is that James and Davis each missed one game against Houston. The dynamic duo playing together will be the difference on Friday night. Davis averaged 29 points a game on 57 percent shooting against Portland. James hit for 27 a game on 60 percent shooting.

While those shooting numbers arenít likely to continue, the Lakers are rested and ready to go against Houston. The number to watch is 120. In the last four games of the Portland series, the Lakers averaged 120.2 points per 100 possessions. It was largely due to much improved shooting.

If you go back 14 games, the Lakers ATS numbers look abysmal. They are just 4-10 ATS. But, if you look at the last four games of the Portland series, youíll see that L.A. covered in three of four.

Would you like to know more about betting NBA moneylines

They covered three straight as a single digit underdog. They failed to cover in Game 5 as a 13.5-point favorite, a game in which Portland star Damian Lillard did not play.

You can also factor in Houstonís recent record against the spread. Itís not all that good. The Rockets are just 1-4 ATS in their last five games and just 1-5 ATS in their last six when they have been the road team.

Rested and ready versus tired and weary. Iíll take the former to cover in Game 1 for this free pick.

NBA Free Pick: Lakers -6.5





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