Rockets vs. Pelicans Free Pick 02/23/17 – Larry Ness NBA Predictions
By Larry Ness
The Rockets are 40-18 and if they resided in the East, they would trail only the 39-16 Cavaliers. However, the Rockets play in the West, leaving them EIGHT games back of the 47-9 Warriors and four games behind the 43-13 Spurs. A path to the NBA Finals would almost assuredly have to go through BOTH San Antonio and then Golden State. So much for Houston’s title hopes.
If one thinks that’s depressing, think of prospects faced by the now Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins-led New Orleans Pelicans. They return from the All Star break 23-34, leaving them 2 1/2 games back of the Nuggets, who own the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Kings and Trail Blazers are between New Orleans and Denver, so if the Pelicans can pass both teams and then catch Denver, their reward would be a first-round matchup with the Warriors!
Houston ranks second in scoring to only Golden St at 114.4 PPG but still traded defensive-minded swingman Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick for LA’s Lou Williams. He’s averaging a career-best 18.6 PPG and joins a loaded backcourt which features James Harden (29.2-8.3-11.0), Eric Gordon (17.2) and Patrick Beverley (9.6-4.3-5.6). Trade rumors swirl around Beverley, which I find shocking, as one regularly hears that Houston considers Beverley to be the team’s most important player behind Harden,
Will the pairing of All Star MVP Davis (27.7 & 11.9) and talented but controversial Cousins (27.8 & 10.7), who owns a league-high 17 technicals, really work? Only time will tell but I want no part of New Orleans, a 14-15 home team, in its first game with both players on the court. Houston is 19-11 SU and ATS on the road and I’m taking the small road favorite.
Larry Ness’ Free Pick: Houston -4 (-102) @ 5Dimes
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