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Preview: Wizards are strong favorites to win second straight as they visit the Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards
Wizards guard Corey Kispert.
Photo by KeShawn Ennis/NBAE via Getty Images

After snapping a six-game losing streak with a solid win against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Wizards are strong favorites to win a second in a row by beating the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets are the NBA’s weakest team this season. They have the worst record, they’re 27th in offense, 30th in defense and dead last in strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin. This is intentional, of course. Houston stocked the roster with youngsters and sidelined former Wizards star John Wall for the entire season. Their plan was to lose lots of games to increase their odds of getting a top four draft pick.

The Wizards are the better team and should have a relatively easy win, whether or not Kyle Kuzma returns to the lineup. Here’s how the teams stack up:

Rockets at Wizards — Rankings

OFFENSE ROCKETS WIZARDS
OFFENSE ROCKETS WIZARDS
eFG% 14 17
tov% 30 11
reb% 22 26
ftm/fga 4 8
ortg 27 21
DEFENSE ROCKETS WIZARDS
eFG% 30 13
tov% 15 30
reb% 29 20
ftm/fga 24 25
drtg 30 25

A few keys to the game:

  • Turnovers — The Rockets are the NBA’s most turnover-prone team. The Wizards are at the bottom in forcing turnovers. Which trend holds?
  • Shooting — Washington is 17th in effective field goal percentage, and Houston is dead last in defensive efg.
  • Scoring — Both teams near the bottom of the league’s defensive rankings, and the Rockets play at the NBA’s fastest pace, which should set up a high scoring affair.
  • Fatigue — Houston will be on the second half of a back-to-back, which should be to Washington’s advantage. On the other hand, the Rockets are young and won’t need to travel.
  • Coaching — Wes Unseld Jr.’s first-year honeymoon appears to be ending. He’s been catching criticism in recent weeks. One coach catching more heat: Houston’s Stephen Silas, now in his second season.
  • One That Got Away? — Rookie swingman Corey Kispert has played and shot better in recent weeks. While 19-year old Turkish big man Alperen Sengun hasn’t been outstanding, he’s shown the kind of skill, exuberance and flair that bodes well for his future in the league. His playing time has increased the past 10+ games, and Wizards fans will get a chance to see him up close.

Expected Rotations

Wizards Starters

PG — Raul Neto

SG — Corey Kispert

SF — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

PF — Kyle Kuzma (the team expects him to play after sitting against the Lakers)

C — Kristaps Porzingis

Bench

G — Ish Smith

G — Tomas Satoransky

F — Deni Avdija

F — Rui Hachimura

C — Daniel Gafford

Rockets Starters

PG — Kevin Porter Jr.

SG — Jalen Green

SF — Garrison Mathews

PF — Jae’Sean Tate

C — Christian Wood

Bench

G — Dennis Schroder

G — Josh Christopher

G — Daishen Nix

F — Kenyon Martin Jr.

C — Alperen Sengun

DraftKings Odds

The DraftKings Sportsbook odds indicate they largely agree with my analysis.

  • Spread: Wizards -4.5
  • Total (over/under): 234.5
  • Moneyline: Wizards -190/Rockets +160

Prediction Machine

My prediction machine has the Wizards with a 69% chance of winning. The DraftKings line has Washington favored by 4.5, which implies a 64% chance of winning. My machine forecasts a total of 222 points. I’d expect the total to be higher than my forecast because neither team defends and the Rockets like to play fast. The oddsmakers set the total at 234.5, which indicates they concur with my thinking.

If you’re considering betting on the total, think about this: the average combined total for the Wizards and Rockets over each team’s last 10 games is 234.5. Rockets games have gone over 6 times. Wizards: 4.

In the category of Predictions Sure to Go Wrong, IF I was to wager on this game, I’d pick the Wizards to win and cover, and I’d take the under. Friendly reminder: Do not use these predictions as a basis for actual wagers.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.