Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans: Predictions and Odds

How to Watch

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

When: 7:00 PM EST, 29 December 2018

How (TV/Radio): NBA TV, Fox Sports New Orleans, AT&T Sportsnet – Southwest | 790 AM, WRNO 99.5 FM

Houston Rockets

Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni {All-Time 593-485 | DEN, PHO, NYK, LAL, HOU}

The Houston Rockets are ranked seventh in the Western Conference. Over their past ten matches they’ve posted a 7-3 record in hopes of climbing up the challenging Western Conference.

The Rockets will have a difficult time as the new year approaches, facing five plus-.500 teams over the next two weeks. The Rockets have added to their depth with Austin Rivers, but will need continued production from their stars.

James Harden has scored more than thirty points in every game since December 8th. He has been the engine behind every Rocket success so far this season. Despite his incredible success, the Rockets need more from their role players.

New Orleans Pelicans

Head Coach: Alvin Gentry {All-Time 462-524 | MIA, DET, LAC, PHO, NOP}

The New Orleans Pelicans are not having the season they had hoped for. Despite the continued efforts of Anthony Davis, the Pelicans still sit fourteenth in the Western Conference.

The West is competitive no doubt, but the 25 year-old Davis surely can’t put up with more losing seasons at this point in his career. The Pelicans, at 15-20, are not likely to taste the playoffs this year due to the mind-blowing competitiveness of this years West.

Against the Rockets the Pelicans will need to stop the Rockets offensive onslaught. While they are near unguardable with their style of play, the Pelicans maintain their own unguardable force in Davis to challenge them.

What’s At Stake?

Since the inception of the New Orleans Pelicans franchise, they and the Rockets have met a total of sixty times. In that span of time, the Houston Rockets lead the all-time series 34-26.

If the Houston Rockets clinch this win, they would tie for sixth in the West with the Portland Trail Blazers. A loss would sent them behind the San Antonio Spurs and tie them with the Sacramento Kings for eighth place.

A win would do little for the New Orleans Pelicans. At 15-20 in the conference, .500 is not out of reach, but a win would merely move them to half a game from the Minnesota Timberwolves and a loss would keep them in place.

Questions to answer

Who will step up for the Pelicans?

What can Austin Rivers bring to the table?

We are going to compare the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Pelicans are 29th in the League in Bench Scoring

The New Orleans Pelicans have very capable pieces in their starting lineup. Not a single starter averages less than 13 points per game, yet their bench leaves much to be desired.

Solomon Hill hasn’t panned out after his injury, Jahlil Okafor’s potential seems to be maxed as a third-stringer, and Darius Miller is an energetic yet overworked role player. The Pelicans bench leaves much to be desired.

If the Pelicans can stagger their starting line with their bench players, it is possible that they would be able to better balance their production. Luckily for the Pelicans, the Rockets bench is 30th in the NBA so the bench battle will likely be square.

Rivers Adds Another Playmaker to the Rockets Ranks

For his career, Austin Rivers averages 9.3 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.1 rebounds while converting on 35% from three.

Rivers is a high-usage player, 19.2% for his career. His style of play did not mesh well with the ball-dominant guards of the Washington Wizards, but the lack of depth on the Rockets suggest he’ll be the go-to creator for the bench.

The Rockets were not able to rely on the likes of Michael Carter-Williams or Brandon Knight since the season began. Rivers will have the freedom to create on his own and for the less offensively-proficient members of the Houston Rockets.

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

G-F James Ennis (hamstring) is still day-to-day and did not play on Wednesday.

G James Harden (calf) played against the Celtics and is expected to play against the Pelicans.

G Chris Paul (hamstring) is expected to return in the new year.

New Orleans Pelicans Roster Notes

F Nikola Mitotic (ankle) did not play in Wednesday’s game and is listed as questionable against the Rockets.

G Elfrid Payton (finger) is targeting a January return after fracturing his finger.

Head-to-Head: James Harden vs Anthony Davis

James Harden

32.3 PPG | 8.4 APG | 5.7 RPG | 2.1 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 5.3 TOV | .445 FG% | .376 3P%

Anthony Davis

28.1 PPG | 4.6 APG | 12.9 RPG | 1.7 SPG | 2.7 BPG | 2.2 TOV | .502 FG% | .319 3P%

James Harden and Anthony Davis are two players that hold their teams success in their hands. Based on their incredible statistics alone, both players will need to have a big night to ensure their teams success.

James Harden has showed that he can score. What is almost just as important is his playmaking for the rest of his team. Harden is averaging a career high in usage (37.7%), which has lead him to a career high in scoring. Should the Rockets bench find some consistency, Harden and the Rockets may finally find some consistency and climb back up the table.

Anthony Davis will have to do more than score to defeat the Rockets. As one of the NBA’s premier defenders, Davis will be asked to both protect the rim and switch out on to the Rockets’ most dangerous playmakers. If anyone in the NBA is capable of stopping a team on his own it’s Davis. Whether he’ll have the support on the other end is another question.

Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Houston Rockets favoured over the New Orleans Pelicans by 1.5, with an over/under of 110.