- The Rockets are looking to continue torrid hot streak against the Pelicans
- Davis is trying to lift Pelicans into playoffs without DeMarcus Cousins
- We have expert analysis for Saturday’s marquee match-up, as well as straight-up picks for all six NBA games on the slate
It’s the final head-to-head of the season between the NBA’s leading scorers, as the blistering-hot Houston Rockets (58-14, 27-6 at home ) host the New Orleans Pelicans (43-30, 21-15 away) on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m.
James Harden has been the front-runner all season, pouring in over 31 points a game, while still chipping in almost nine assists per contest in leading the Rockets to the best record in the NBA and most likely the top seed in the playoffs.
The Rockets are heading to the postseason in style, having reeled off wins in 24 of their last 25 games. Their only blemish came in a late-game defeat on the road against the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis (second in scoring at 28.2 points per game) has gone berserk in the second half of the season, almost single-handedly carrying the Pelicans to their second playoff appearance in his six years in the league.
Since DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles tear, Davis has averaged 35 points, 11 boards and over two blocks a game while shooting close to 51-percent from the field. His production has propelled them to a 7-1 record in February.
The Brow has not slowed down in March, averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds, close to four blocks a game while shooting at an ultra-efficient 54-percent from the field. The Pelicans are 15-7 during that stretch and are in the thick of the playoff logjam in the West.
Straight-Up Pick: Rockets
This is an inevitable march to a regular season conference crown, and there’s no one getting in the way of these Rockets. Apart from having a more talented roster from top to bottom, Houston is going to benefit from two of the Pelicans’ biggest weaknesses.
First, New Orleans is next to last in the league in offensive rebounds surrendered per game (10.8), and they surrender the second most points per game at close to 111 per contest. Giving extra possessions to the second highest scoring team in the league (113.7 a game) is deadly.
Apart from Davis, this team lacks a player that would crack the top 15 at his position in the NBA. But that doesn’t make the Pelicans anything close to a pushover.
They encourage teams to get into a track meet with them, as they are third in the Association in pace – a staggering 102.4 possessions a game. Couple that with the second-best team field goal percentage in the NBA at 48.2 per cent, and you can see why they’re pumping in 111.5 points a game, a top-4 mark in the league.
It’s a good old-fashioned shootout, and I see Davis going for 40+ to out duel Harden, but the Rockets have more weapons in this fight to take it.
Saturday Straight-Up Picks
The NBA has a six-pack on the docket Saturday. There’s also a battle of some of the best young talent the league with the Timberwolves clashing with the 76ers in Philly.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Philadelphia 76ers: 76ers
Chicago Bulls vs Detroit Pistons: Bulls
Phoenix Suns vs Orlando Magic: Suns
Los Angeles Lakers vs Memphis Grizzlies: Lakers
Charlotte Hornets vs Dallas Mavericks: Hornets
Be sure to check back closer to game time as we’ll provide all the betting lines for these games, and don’t hesitate to place a wager from one our many reputable sportsbooks. Need a hand to get into the action? We have you covered with our Betting on NBA Basketball Guide.
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