When and where: October 17, 2018, Toyota Center, Houston, TX, 8:00 PM ET
The Houston Rockets came one game away from knocking off the Golden State Warriors last season and potentially winning an NBA championship. That journey begins anew on Wednesday when they play host to the visiting New Orleans Pelicans. Could a new big-three emerge in Houston with James Harden, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony?
Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis might have something to say about that.
Davis is still a Pelican—now what?
Most of the talk heading into the offseason was how the Pelicans might potentially blow up their roster by trading Davis and officially signaling a reboot. There were rumors of Los Angeles being a potential destination, and some even pondered if Golden State would be a possibility, before the Warriors went out and signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal. The offseason has come and gone, and we are literally hours away from the opening season tipoff.
And Davis is still on the Pelicans roster.
According to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, the team is no longer considering moving the three-time All-NBA first teamer in a trade. Not even pop icon Beyonce could talk the team into moving on from arguably the best player in the NBA.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 12, 2018
However, those feelings might not be mutual if the Pelicans continue to lose. Davis remains a big fish in a small pond, and it might only be a matter of time before he starts demanding to be traded.
The Pelicans lost all five of their preseason games.
How will Anthony fit with the Rockets?
A year ago, Anthony laughed when asked about the possibility of coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder. That question will now become his reality in the season opener against the Pelicans.
Anthony, a former 10-time NBA All-Star, is switching his role from a starter to the official leader of the second unit for the Rockets. It’ll be something to monitor as the season goes on to see how well he adjusts to his new role.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 5, 2018
As for the Rockets in general, they are hoping to see a re-emergence of the vintage version of Anthony—the spot-up shooter capable of sinking buckets from every angle on the floor. He is coming off a year where he had a career-low .404 field goal percentage, while also averaging only 16.2 points per game. It was the first time in his career he averaged less than 20 points in a season.
It was also the first he’s played with a couple other superior All-Stars in Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The same will be the case in Houston with Harden and Paul, but like Oklahoma City, they care more about Anthony’s shooting percentage than his scoring total.
The Rockets finished the preseason with a 4-1 record.
- Rockets are 12-4-1 ATS in last 17 games played on a Wednesday
- Rockets are 7-3 ATS in last 10 games after giving up 100 points or more against the previous opponents
- Rockets are 10-4 ATS in last 14 games coming off 3 or more days rest
- Home team is 5-1 ATS in last 6 head-to-head meetings
- Pelicans are 2-5 ATS in last 7 head-to-head games played in Houston
- Pelicans are 4-14 ATS in last 18 games coming off 3 or more days rest
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Pelicans were unlucky enough to have their season-opening game on the road against one of the best offensive teams in the league. Davis at times looks like a man amongst boys when he’s dominating on the floor, but the combination of Harden and Paul will be a handful for a Pelican team that still needs time to find their identity.
There is no more Cousins working in the low post, contributing elite numbers to go alongside Davis’. It’s never a good thing when a team loses a player that is by-and-large the best at his position.
The Rockets have too many wing catch-and-shoot players that should be able to stifle the Pelicans defense on the perimeter. They’ll spread the ball around and stretch out the Pelicans’ long and rangy defenders. Obviously, the Pelicans are a talented team that likely won’t go away easily.
I just don’t envision them being able to hang with the bevy of offensive firepower the Rockets are capable at throwing opponents. It’s the season opener and thousands of fans in the Toyota Center will be jumping with excitement.
Give me the Rockets in this one.
Prediction: Houston Rockets (-7.5)
Full-Game Total Pick
I’ll give the Pelicans defense some respect here by saying they should keep the game from getting out of hand, even against the Rockets’ high-powered offense. There should also be a feeling out process as players attempt to adjust to regular season basketball. The preseason warmup sessions are over, and it’s time for the real deal. Not to mention the under is 5-1 in the last six head-to-head meetings between these two teams in Houston.
Prediction: Under (228.5)
Full-Game Prop Bet
The Rockets are fully capable of scoring any team out of the gym, especially when they’re playing at home with both Harden and Paul on the floor, but they’ll be playing against a Pelican team that finished with a top-10 defense last season. There are questions regarding their ability to maintain the same elite level of defensive efficiency, but I believe they’ll at least be formidable enough to hold the Rockets under 119.5 points. This is no pushover opponent for the Rockets.
Prediction: Rockets Total Points (Under 119.5)