Sixers vs Rockets: Game preview, best bets & predictions

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NBA: FEB 06 Rockets at Lakers
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 06: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) looks at the basket before the Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers game on February 06, 2020, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

Game info

The Sixers are traveling to Houston to take on the Rockets and will be hoping to get a win before a long rest this week. The Rockets are 6-17, currently 14th in the Western Conference, and coming off a 120-101 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. The Sixers, have lost their last two games to the Cavaliers and Grizzlies and look to turn things around.

Sixers vs Rockets game info

Who: Sixers (12-11) at Rockets (6-17)
When: Monday, December 5th, 8:00 pm
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

Sixers vs Rockets betting info

Spread: Sixers -8.5 | Rockets + 8.5
Moneyline: Sixers -240 | Rockets +375
Total: Over/Under 221.5 points

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The big story for the night is the possible return of James Harden. Sidelined for the past month with a right foot tendon strain, Harden had seemed to be back to his old self to start off the season. In the nine games Harden has played, he’s averaging 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists.

While the scoring was down, Harden the facilitator was just getting started having to accommodate Joel Embiid and rising star Tyrese Maxey. If Harden is able to go, the Sixers should be mindful of his minutes, something that Head Coach Doc Rivers doesn’t seem to do with anyone this season.

Center Joel Embiid, having missed four games in the middle of last month, has returned and looked even bit of his usual dominant self. In the loss to the Grizzlies, Embiid finished with 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. For the season, Embiid has played 15 games and is averaging 31.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists to go along with 1.1 steals and 1.7 blocks. Embiid, should he remain healthy, looks to be on pace for another finish near the top of the MVP rankings.

With Embiid, Maxey and Harden having all missed time, Shake Milton and DeAnthony Melton have stepped up their games. Milton was in line to be the starting point guard at the start of last season and an injury put him on the shelf and made way for Tyrese Maxey to take his spot and he’s never let it go. When Maxey (left foot fracture) returns, it’s certain that Milton will see his minutes cut. Milton has averaged 21 points per game over the last five games without Harden and Maxey.

DeAnthony Melton has averaged 11 points over the past five games but his defense is what’s been a huge help for the Sixers. He’s currently averaging 2 steals per game with 11 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Melton, given the minutes, has been everything that the Sixers had hoped for when they acquired him this past off-season. He’s able to score, isn’t afraid to shoot and his defense has been as good as advertised. He’s the player that everyone had hoped Matisse Thybulle would have turned in to by this point of his career. Melton will be starting alongside Harden tonight, is Harden plays, and Milton will return to the bench.

The Rockets are led by Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. this season. Green is averaging 21.4 points per game to go along with 4 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Porter is averaging 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. Combined with center Alperen Sengun, guard Eric Gordon, Jabari Smith Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. the Rockets feature six players that are averaging in double digits scoring. While they’re a young team, as you can tell by the amount of “juniors” in their lineup, the Rockets have yet to put it all together as the team is rebuilding. They still present problems for opposing teams on both ends of the floor and could give the Sixers, who tend to play down to teams, some fits this evening.

Prediction: Sixers – 117 Rockets – 108

Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire