Teams are settling into the NBA’s limited preseason, where each squad will play between two and four games. The regular season 72 game schedule will begin on December 22 with a pair of games.
In the first of a home and home series to close out the preseason, the 1-1 Houston Rockets host the 0-1 San Antonio Spurs. The Rockets have a first-year head coach in Stephen Silas, while Gregg Popovich is in his 25th season at the helm of the Spurs.
There are nine NBA teams with new head coaches and numerous ones with significantly retooled lineups. With shortened training camps, the handful of preseason games increase in importance from prior years.
Houston Rockets Betting Preview: A Harden Return?
Former NBA most valuable player James Harden has requested a trade from the Houston Rockets. The All-Star guard was late reporting to training camp and is expected to make his preseason debut against the Spurs.
The Rockets have already traded Russell Westbrook to Washington for guard John Wall and would like to convince Harden to remain in Houston. With two years remaining on Harden’s contract, the Rockets are looking to get some real value in return.
In the first preseason game, a 125-104 win over the Bulls, Silas used 16 players, and six of them scored in double figures. In the next game against the Bulls, the Rockets still used the entire roster, but the starters got more minutes in a 104-91 loss.
San Antonia Spurs Betting Preview: Looking to Rebuild
In 2019-2020, the Spurs managed to make it into the Orlando bubble but failed to advance to the playoffs. Popovich is trying to build a roster around guard DeMar DeRozan and forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay.
The Spurs lost their preseason opener 121-108 to the Thunder. They were led by Patty Mills with 24 points, followed by Gay (15 points) and Aldridge (14 points). They’ll be shorthanded for the next two games, with four role players sidelined with injuries.
Spurs at Rockets Betting Odds and Lines
MyBookie.ag posts the Houston Rockets as five-point favorites over visiting San Antonio. Both teams have odds of -110 against the spread.
Whether or not Houston is favored in many games this year will be up to Harden staying with the Rockets.
Free Betting Pick
With Harden expected to play, he will likely be trying to entice other teams to take a look at him. It’s unclear how many minutes he’ll get, but Harden will undoubtedly bolster the Rocket’s lineup. The Spurs will be experimenting, and Popovich is unlikely to be too concerned with the outcome.
Currently, the Rockets are a better team, with or without Harden on the floor. As unpredictable as NBA preseason games are, look for the Rockets to prevail and probably score a lot of points in the process. If Harden gets significant minutes, he’ll be looking to put up some big numbers.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Houston Rockets -5