Philadelphia (23-13) has lost three straight games since their Christmas Day victory over the first-place Milwaukee Bucks. Their most recent setback was a 115-97 loss to Pacers on Tuesday night. Philadelphia was without the services of Joel Embiid, who missed the game with a knee injury. Embiid’s status for Friday is not yet confirmed, however, he is not listed on the team’s injury report. Embiid has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 10 appearances with nine double-doubles during that stretch. Josh Richardson led the way in Tuesday’s loss scoring a team-high 20 points. Richardson is averaging 17.5 points over his last four games.
Houston (23-11) is coming off a 130-104 victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday that saw James Harden bounceback strong with 35 points. Harden missed his first game of the season on Sunday due to a toe injury as his team lost to the Pelicans. Harden leads the NBA averaging 38.2 points per game this season. Russell Westbrook scored 28 points in the victory over Denver, recording his 11th straight 20-point effort. Sharpshooter Eric Gordon will play in his third game since returning from knee surgery. Gordon has averaged 24 minutes and 16 points over his first two games back in the lineup.
ESPN’s FPI gives Rockets a 63.0% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Friday’s matchup between the Sixers and Rockets.
Follow the Heavy on Winners Facebook page for the top picks, latest odds, and more!
Sixers vs. Rockets Game Details
Date: Friday, January 3
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Toyota Center (Houston, Texas)
Spread: Rockets -4.5
- SF James Ennis (illness) doubtful
- SG Matisse Thybulle (knee) out
- C Nene (hip) out
- SG Gerald Green (foot) out
- Sixers are 23-13 SU and 15-17-4 ATS this season
- Rockets are 23-11 SU and 17-17 ATS this season
- Over is 18-17-1 in Sixers games this season
- Under is 19-15 in Rockets games this season
Analysis & Pick
The Sixers have hit the skids after their biggest victory of the season on Christmas Day. It was predictable for them to come back down to earth a bit after their lights out shooting performance against the Bucks, but this extended slump has worried fans and players alike. The losing streak has put Philadelphia 2.5 games back of Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division standings as we inch closer to the midway point of the regular season. Meanwhile, the Rockets seem to be getting healthier and are playing an impressive brand of basketball with James Harden in the lineup. Eric Gordon’s return should spark some added scoring and if Harden’s toe is good to go, Houston should continue to pile up wins. I do expect a better effort from Philadelphia tonight as they try to halt their slide, but this is a tough matchup against a Rockets team that will push the tempo and shoot a ton of three-pointers. If Houston shoots to their percentages, this should be an easy Rockets cover.
PICK: Rockets -4.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith