Let’s talk numbers, beginnings and ends. And expect an early points bonanza when the Houston Rockets host the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
Why? Because the two high-flying offensive teams are ranked number one and two in the NBA when it comes to first quarter scoring as well as in overall points per game.
Midway through the campaign, trends are a little surer and there’s no pair quicker out of the gate than the Rockets and the Dubs.
The Warriors, currently in possession of the league’s best record at 36-6, rack up an average of 31.1 in the opening period although that drops marginally to 29.5 on the road.
Houston – 2.35 to be in front at the first interval – achieves a rapid lift-off of 30.5 in the first 12 minutes, a mark jumping by a mere 0.3 in the initial 12 minutes.
Their offensive rate dips considerably in the fourth periods when Golden State is only +0.3 in margin and the Rockets -0.4, meaning it’s worth a very small handicap over that slot (the Warriors are 1.85 on -0.5) – even if three losses from four have blown Houston’s momentum with their gusts at 1.49 for the win.
Contrast that with Memphis with the Grizzlies putting up a league-low 23.3 in opening quarters. Expect a slow burner when they host the Sacramento Kings, who notch a mere 24.4 on average away from home at the outset, making them good value at 2.60 for a lead from the first.
At the other end of the game, it’s the Boston Celtics who have taken the maxim that it’s better to finish strong than waste it early. The Cs score at a clip of 29.0 in fourths on a margin of +2.2.
It makes them even more solid a punt when they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday who put up only 25.2 in the period away from the Moda Center.
Winners of eight out of ten, Boston were stunned by the New York Knicks in midweek but expect a rapid response.
Best bet: Go under 230.5 total points in Golden State - Houston at 2.60
Sticking with saving bests for last, the premier closers are the Toronto Raptors who out-score opponents by +3.5 in the fourth while putting up 28.5, a factor worth looking at when they host struggling Phoenix on Sunday.
Only the 76ers suffer more in late-games in the NBA with the Suns out-gunned by -2.0. Although curiously, they’re +0.6 on their travels, and with a few tight games against good teams lately, taking the Raps at -3.5 might be the safer bet.