This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
Clippers (+2.5) at Rockets – FD, 12:29 PM CT Wednesday
This line is suspicious to say the least. The only scenario in which the Rockets should be favored over the Clippers is if Kawhi Leonard rests. It opened as a pick-em, but has been bet to Rockets -2.5. The Clippers are on the first half of a back-to-back set, and Leonard has previously rested in the first games of back-to-backs. However, there has been no indication of that being the case Wednesday. Sharps are apparently banking on it, but wouldn't it make more sense for Leonard to rest against the struggling Pelicans tomorrow? There may also be a belief that Paul George's possible return will throw a wrench into the chemistry of LA. Maybe he's rusty and goes 1-for-8 from the field. I understand that point of view, but George is such an elite defensive presence, it's difficult for me to imagine him being a net negative in the X amount of minutes that he's out there.
The Rockets are also going to be missing Eric Gordon (knee) and Danuel House (back). Houston is a shallow team, and those absences are dramatic for them. The 13 most-frequent Rockets lineups include at least one of Gordon or House. There just isn't reliable data for what Houston is as a team without that pair.
Both squads are negative against the spread in their respective home/road split this season, but the Clippers' rank fourth in Simple Rating System with a mark of 8.0, and the Rockets are an uninspiring 14th with a mark of -0.8. This has all the makings of a trap, but I'm willing to take the risk. This has potential to be the best value of the day.
Grizzlies (+2.5) at Hornets – DK, 1:13 PM CT Wednesday
Both of these teams are bad – Memphis is 28th in SRS; Charlotte is 27th – and the Hornets are likely favored simply due to home-court advantage. Both teams are negative ATS in their respective home/road split as well. You might actually be able to wait until closer to tipoff on this line, as 65% of the bets and 58% of the money is going toward the Hornets according to the Action Network. It could push up to Grizzlies +3.
Ultimately, I think the Grizzlies have more talent than the Hornets. Memphis' most frequent lineup has a net rating of -1.9, while the Hornets' most frequent lineup (sans Dwayne Bacon, who is expected to be out Wednesday) is -8.7. There is also a heavy advantage for the Grizzlies in terms of three-man combinations. It honestly makes me wonder how these teams are so close in terms of SRS. Memphis' lineups seem to have much more competency. There isn't a ton of value in this line, but I'll take the points here for a team that I think is better and healthier.