Can the Rockets Cover? Betting Analysis on the Rockets vs. Nuggets

January 7, 2019 | insideinjuries | No Comments james harden hamstring

The Houston Rockets are hosting the Denver Nuggets tonight in a showdown between the No. 1 and the No. 5 seeds in the West. Despite the Nuggets having a better record, lines in Vegas are currently favoring the Rockets at -1.5. A closer look at each team’s injuries and health reveals that that Rockets may not be able to cover.

The biggest thorn in the Rockets’ side for tonight’s game is Chris Paul’s lingering hamstring injury. The PG has been out since mid-December recovering from a left hamstring strain, and isn’t expect to return until late January. The Rockets have managed fine without their second-best player though, winning 6 of the past 7 games that Paul has sat out. The other major injury affecting the Rockets is Eric Gordon’s knee right knee soreness. He has missed the past three games and his not expected to play tonight. That means the Rockets will be without 2 of their top 5 scorers against the No. 1 team in the West. That may seem like a recipe for disaster, but the remaining three top scorers (James Harden, Clint Capela, and Austin Rivers) all have a Peak Health Performance Factor. This could explain why lines are favoring the Rockets.

One other thing worth mentioning with regards to Rockets’ injuries is James Harden’s Injury Risk. Despite having a Peak HPF, his Injury Risk is High. Harden suffered a left hamstring strain earlier in the season that held him out for 3 games. It was the same hamstring that held him out for multiple weeks last season. Though he hasn’t missed anymore games, Harden has also suffered a minor calf injury and had to exit the game against the Warriors a few days ago to have his elbow examined. He’s pretty banged up, and if he suffers an injury in tonight’s game, the odds will shift to favor the Nuggets.

The Nuggets just got Paul Millsap back after being out with a broken toe, but the Inside Injuries algorithm suggests he’s far from 100%. He’s only halfway through his 9 week Optimal Recovery Time and is currently playing at a High Injury Risk. Millsap is a veteran leader for the Nuggets and one of their best players. Having him back is great, but the risk of him playing before he’s healthy may not be worth the reward. The Nuggets have also been without Will Barton for most of the season after he underwent surgery to repair hip and core muscles.

Nikola Jokic leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. He is currently an Elevated Injury Risk (some concern here), but his Peak HPF makes sense considering his recent hot streak. This is a big boost for the Nuggets, despite the fact that their other 4 starters have a High Injury Risk.

Inside Injuries has taken into account the health of each team’s entire roster as well as the injury concerns facing the biggest play-makers on each team. The Overall Injury Risk of the Rockets roster (Elevated 27%) and current injuries is higher than the Nuggets’ Injury Risk (Elevated 24%), but the Rockets still have a better overall HPF at 74% compared to the Nuggets at 64%. Our Injury Adjusted Spread puts the line at -1.46 in favor of the Rockets. That means, by our calculations, the Rockets will have a hard time covering at -1.5 considering all of their injury concerns and the absence of two of their starting 5. 

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