Having faced each other once before on the year, the Philadelphia Sixers have the only win in the season series against the Houston Rockets so far. The Rockets were banged up at the time with both Chris Paul and Clint Capela out at the time. However, this time around the Sixers will be the ones shorthanded with star big man Joel Embiid likely out along with Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Boban Marjonovic, and Zhaire Smith.
The Sixers have been treading water without Embiid, but have struggled to find consistency without their interior force. Tobias Harris has emerged as the leading scorer in his absence while Ben Simmons still holds his same pace-pushing facilitator role. Jimmy Butler has seen his role reduced slightly, but operates as a two-way force that the Sixers can trust to grind out a basket when they go cold on offense.
The Rockets are finally healthy and playing like the team that nearly dethroned the Warriors last season. After a misstep coming out of the All-Star break against the Lakers, the Rockets have rattled off six straight wins heading into the matchup against Philadelphia. With Harden’s supporting cast now back in the mix, the Rockets offer multiple ways to score the basket should Harden go cold. Capela’s defense, in particular, is crucial to the Rockets’ success.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets Betting Line & Over/Under
(Betting Line and Total courtesy of Oddsshark.com)
- Philadelphia 76ers (41-24) vs Hoston Rockets (39-25)
- Friday, March 8th at 8:00 pm ET
- Point Spread: Houston Rockets (-7 at -109)
- Point Total: (232)
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets Betting Prediction
Even if by some miracle one of Philadelphia’s injured players can make a return, they still find themselves extremely shorthanded against a loaded Houston Rockets team. The starting unit isn’t the issue when it comes to this version of the Sixers, as they have functioned well running out a small ball lineup. Instead, the bench unit is considerably depleted at the forward spots and the Sixers are extremely vulnerable when their starters get some rest.
While James Harden and the Rockets offense has gotten tons of credit on the year, one of the biggest keys to their recent return to form has been Clint Capela’s work around the rim. An elite rim-runner with a strong enough frame to battle on the boards alongside any NBA heavyweight, Capela unlocks an entirely different defense for the Rockets and enables them to get out in transition where the duo of Paul and Harden are so dangerous. Capela is also one of the better screeners in the NBA and works especially well with Paul to set up easy open looks.
There really isn’t a number in single digits here for the Rockets that I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking. Especially with so many players down for the Sixers and being on the road against one of the NBA’s hottest teams, this seems like a game the Rockets win in a blowout. The Sixers that show up tomorrow will not be the Sixers we see come the playoffs (unless something is very wrong with Embiid) and that difference is going to be extremely evident against a top contender in the west.
Pick: Rockets -7
Predicted Score: Rockets 123 – Sixers 110