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The Houston Rockets (18-16) are going on the road to take on the Miami Heat (20-15) in South Beach on Monday evening.
The Rockets’ first year under Ime Udoka has seen them transform into one of the league’s best defensive outfits with a top-six point differential in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Heat started the regular season better than they did a year ago but also lost three of their last four games.
Here, we will review the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Rockets vs. Heat battle in South Florida.
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The Heat are favored by 4.5 points on their home floor on Monday. This will be the first meeting between the two, but Houston has not won a game against Miami since Nov. 2019.
|Over 219.5 (-110)
|Under 219.5 (-110)
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The Rockets are one of the toughest teams in the league to put away. Their methodical tempo and lockdown defense give them a chance against every team they face, even if they are outmatched from a personnel standpoint.
Houston’s +2.6 average point differential is the best of any team in the league with 18 or fewer wins and is also better than five teams with better records, including Miami (+.9). They’re also the fourth-best team in the league against the spread at 20-12-2 (62.5% cover rate).
Jumping into the numbers, the Rockets are fifth in defensive rating and 13th in rebound rate. They’re only 20th in offensive rating but score just about one point per halfcourt possession, which is average (15th).
While Houston has been extremely solid, it has not found ways to win on the road. They’re just 3-10 outside of their home arena (though they won three of their last five road games). Monday’s Heat matchup also marks the end of a seven-game home stand and the first game in a six-game road trip.
Alperen Sengun is the player to watch here. He averages 21.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.1 assists and scored 26.9 points per game over his last eight outings. His usage rate is in the 93rd percentile, and the team has a +5.4 net rating with him on the floor.
On the other side, the Heat are off to a better regular-season start than they were last year when they ultimately ended up reaching the NBA Finals. However, they haven’t been overwhelmingly dominant.
While Miami is 9-6 at home, it’s also an even 5-5 against the West. It also has a +1.2 net rating, which is 1.2 points worse than the Rockets, and they’re 16-19 ATS.
The Heat have shot the ball very well from three. They rank third in percentage (38.4%) and have three members of the regular rotation (Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro) shooting better than 41% from outside.
Despite allowing the ninth-fewest points per game, Miami’s characteristic defensive intensity has been absent this season. They’re allowing the third-highest field goal percentage within five feet and rank 17th in three-pointers allowed per game.
Miami also struggles on the boards. Despite Bam Adebayo averaging 10.3 boards per night, the team is only 21st in rebound rate.
Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, Dillon Brooks, and Tari Eason are all expected to miss the game through injury.
The Rockets may have struggled on the road in the past, but they’ve found ways to win recently, beating the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, and Denver Nuggets away from home.
Meanwhile, the Heat have oscillated between hot and cold streaks and lost three of their last four, all against Western Conference opposition.
One area to monitor is the Heat’s ability to wreak havoc on Houston’s slow-paced offense. The Rockets have the ninth-lowest turnover rate, but Miami forced the sixth-most turnovers per possession.
Because Houston is the steadier of the two teams and can take its defense on the road, we like them with the points. It also helps that Sengun is on a hot streak and that Miami hasn’t been great at defending the interior.
Rockets vs Heat pick: Rockets +4.5 at BetMGM
When: Monday, Jan. 8 @ 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Kaseya Center in Miami, FL
TV: NBA League Pass
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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