Rockets vs. Magic Pick

NBA Predictions: Are Rockets going to cruise to win at Magic? 1/3/18

Will the Houston Rockets cover the spread at the Orlando Magic tonight in their first game without James Harden? Tip-off is at 7PM ET.

Who Oddsmakers Like: According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, the Rockets are an 8-point favorite on the spread line. The over-under sits at 219 points. Houston opened as a 5-point fave, while the total has dropped from 220 points.

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Who the Public Likes: As of Wednesday afternoon, 52 percent of public bets have been placed on Orlando.

Injury Report: Harden, an NBA MVP candidate injured his hamstring late in the 148-142 overtime win over the Lakers and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Luc Mbah a Moute has a dislocated shoulder that will keep him out until mid-January. For the Magic, Jonathan Isaac has an ankle injury and is out indefinitely. Center Nikola Vucevic has a broken hand and is also out indefinitely. Terrence Ross has a sprained MCL and non-displaced fracture of the tibia plateau and will miss an extended period of time.

Who the Trends Like: Houston is 2-6 ATS in its last eight meetings in Orlando and 4-11 AT in its last 15 meetings overall. The under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Orlando.

Who We Like: It will be interesting, if not unfortunate, to watch Houston perform without Harden. Chris Paul allows the Houstons to not miss a beat when it comes to ballhandling, distribution and he's an outstanding perimeter defender. But who will take charge as the go-to scorer? Paul will surely see an uptick there, but the player to watch is likely Eric Gordon. Gordon is going to take over Harden's spot in the starting lineup and he's capable of huge scoring outputs. Against a Magic team that has been ravaged with injuries this season and hasn't found consistent footing, I like Houston's chances to roll to victory on the road even without its star.

NBA DAILY PREDICTION: HOUSTON ROCKETS -8

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