There will be wins for the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks tonight, writes Unibet basketball columnist Mark Woods...
Houston Rockets 1.58, Indiana Pacers 2.40 - BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 02.35 GMT
For all their maddening inconsistency, their occasional dysfunction, and a casual approach that frustrates their coaching staff, there’s no denying the talent available to the Houston Rockets.
And the form of Dwight Howard, a growing chemistry, and an ability to pick up wins has made Kevin McHale’s side an incredibly intriguing prospect with two months of the NBA’s regular season left.
Winners of eight of their last ten, Houston hosts the stumbling Indiana Pacers on Friday with a chance to underline their title credentials are far from misplaced, and to avenge a 114-81 humbling in December when they appeared a wholly different proposition to their present form.
Howard’s return to a true All Star level has been a key component. The centre is averaging 19.9 points and 13.3 rebounds over his last ten, and while James Harden has notched 27.8 during the same stretch, the emphasis of the Rockets has shifted subtly from being all about the offense to also protecting the basket.
That could make them a wild card in the Wild West come the playoffs with Houston a generous 12.00 to claim the Conference title and 25.00 to go for the Championship.
And with Indiana dropping two straight, and their defensive regression allowing Miami to turn up the heat in the Eastern race, back Houston on a handicap of -5.5 to lift off once more.
New York Knicks 1.33, Utah Jazz 3.40 - BET and WATCH live on Unibet TV from 00.354 GMT
The Knicks won a game. Who’d have thought it possible? But after seeing off the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, can they repeat the feat when the Utah Jazz come to the Garden?
The visitors are 0-4 on their current road trip and Marvin Williams looks unlikely to hold Carmelo Anthony at bay. And there are increasing signs that the Jazz are tuning out for the season, leaving New York with an open look on a handicap of -6.5, available at 1.83, at winning once more.
Best bet: Take Houston at -5.5 on the handicap over Indiana.