Schedule makers know that the fans have a thirst for some competitive NBA action after the long all-star break and they’ve wasted no time obliging. The Western Conference #1 seed Houston Rockets host the #4 Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night in the 2/23 NBA free pick. Is this game going to be that competitive though? Oddsmakers have set the line at HOU -8.5. The Rockets have won 14 of 15 including a 126-108 victory at the Target Center on February 13th that snapped Minnesota’s 13 game home winning streak.
#Rockets entered All-Star break with the best record in the NBA for the first time in franchise history and face the Timberwolves Friday at 8 ET on #ESPN. Houston enters the matchup riding a 10-game win streak. It is the only team with multiple 10-game win streaks this season.
— CKMagicSports (@ckmagicsports) February 23, 2018
Can Timberwolves Return the Favor?
Despite Minnesota’s impressive home resume, the Rockets were -3.5 road favorites in that contest 10 days ago and they came through for bettors in a big way. James Harden led the way for Houston with 34 points and they got an unexpected boost of 21 points off the bench from Ryan Anderson. Karl-Anthony Towns had a big night in that game with 35 points and 12 rebounds. The big man has another favorable matchup in the 2/23 NBA free pick against Clint Capela but is it enough?
Minnesota might want to enjoy that #4 seed while they can. The T’Wolves 12-18 on the road, have lost six straight away from the Target Center, and play four of five games away starting tonight. The Timberwolves just might not have the firepower to stack up against the Rockets. Well, they do – but is Jimmy Butler facing hidden injury issues or battling extreme fatigue after sitting out the all-star game? On top of that, Andrew Wiggins has hit just 1 of his last 11 three pointers but maybe the break got his mind right.
Did the All-Star Break Hurt Houston?
The Rockets have rattled off 10 straight wins, each by 7 points or more. Is that momentum going to be tripped up by having 8 days off though? If anything the Rockets may have gotten better during the time off. The team is expected to not only get Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza back from injuries, but they’ve also signed sharp shooting veteran Joe Johnson and big man Brandan Wright after they were each bought out.
Houston adding another three point shooter in Johnson was the last thing that Minnesota wanted to see ahead of the 2/23 NBA free pick. it was an NBA record 10 three pointers in the fourth quarter from the Rockets that doomed the Timberwolves in the last matchup. Houston shot 22-47 from beyond the arc in that game and 17-39 in the first contest; a 116-98 Rockets home win on January 18th. By the way, Minnesota shoots the second fewest three pointers in the league behind the Knicks.
2/23 NBA Free Pick
59% of the public is on Houston which might seem like a low percentage considering the Rockets recent success. Then again, 8.5 points is a lot to give in a matchup of the #1 and #4 teams in the West. The truth is though, Houston is fresh and Minnesota has been pretty inept on the road. If the Rockets are hitting their three pointers – which they should at home – Minnesota could get blown out of the water fast as they are not a three point shooting team themselves.
Free Pick: Houston Rockets -8.5