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Nets Thriving, Rockets Struggling Since Harden Trade

Brooklyn Nets vs Houston Rockets Preview

Six weeks after forcing a trade out of Houston, James Harden returns to Toyota Center for the first time as a member of the Nets. Brooklyn (23-13 SU, 19-17 ATS) has won 16 of 23 games since the deal, while Houston (11-22, 11-22) has plummeted to the basement of the Southwest Division.

Brooklyn Nets vs Houston Rockets
  • Date/Time: March 3, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Toyota Center
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Nets -8.5 | O/U 227.5 (Line History)
  • Nets vs Rockets Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

With Houston in the middle of a 12-game losing streak and potentially without several regulars, oddsmakers opened the Rockets as an 8.5-point underdog before early action moved the line to 9.5. To put that into perspective, Houston hasn’t been a home underdog of more than 9.5 points since 2001.

Brooklyn News & Notes

Harden makes his return to Houston on a roll, recording yet another triple-double in Brooklyn’s 124-113 overtime win over the Spurs on Monday in San Antonio. In addition to scoring 30 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds, Harden put up those numbers while not committing a single turnover — two days after promising to be more careful with the ball after committing six turnovers in a loss to Dallas.

Bruce Brown also continued to put up big offensive numbers in place of the injured Kevin Durant, who is expected to remain out until after the all-star break. Brown was 10-for-13 from the field for 23 points against San Antonio and is averaging 18.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in his last five games.

Although overtime caused Monday’s contest to sneak past the total, the Nets are no longer the automatic OVER play that they used to be. Brooklyn has held an opponent under 110 points in regulation four times in its last six games and is 4-2 to the UNDER during that span after going OVER in 22 of its first 29.

Houston News & Notes

The Rockets may be mired in a 12-game losing streak that has put an early end to their playoff hopes, but they haven’t thrown in the towel. Houston proved that with a gutsy effort in Monday’s 101-90 loss to the Cavaliers, when Eric Gordon (knee) and David Nwaba (wrist) were unavailable on the second night of a back-to-back. Already without center Christian Wood, the Rockets also lost Danuel House Jr. to a knee injury early in Monday’s contest.

John Wall played on consecutive nights for the first time since 2018, Victor Oladipo sat just one minute in the second half and P.J. Tucker also put in 38 minutes of work.

“Our guys fought hard … I’m so proud of those guys who didn’t want to come out,” coach Stephen Silas told the Houston Chronicle. “I’ll always believe in this group and their fight.”

Wall, who played the entire first and third quarters, finished with 32 points — his most in a game since December 2018. However, the short bench ultimately caught up with Houston in the fourth quarter, when the Rockets missed 11 of their 18 shots and allowed a 13-0 run that salted the game away.

That could be something to watch for again tonight as Houston plays for the third time in four nights and fourth in six, especially if several regulars are still missing.

Betting Pick: Rockets +9.5

As big a game as this is for Harden, it’s also a big one for the team he gave up on earlier this season. Expect a spirited effort from the Rockets as they stay inside this inflated spread.

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Shark Bites
  • Brooklyn is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games.
  • Houston is 0-12 SU in its last 12 games.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 10 straight Houston home games.