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10-16-2017, 09:01 AM
NBA Southwest betting preview and odds: Can new-look Rockets dethrone Spurs?
Matt Fargo

Chris Paul is teaming up with James Harden in Houston with hopes of knocking Golden State from its throne, but the Rockets can't overlook the Spurs, who have won 50-plus games in 18 straight seasons and the division title in six of the last seven years.

Houston Rockets (2016-17: 55-27 SU, 42-40 ATS)

Odds to Win the Division: -120
Season Win Total: Over 55.5 -132/Under 55.5 +113

Why TO bet the Rockets: James Harden carried his team to 55 wins last season, up from 41 wins the season before when he was paired with Dwight Howard, and now he gets a huge upgrade with the addition of Chris Paul. The Rockets were ranked No. 2 in scoring offense so they could run with anyone but they finished No. 26 in scoring defense. Houston picked up P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah A Moute to help shore up that defense so if all the parts gel, this is a team to contend with the Warriors.

Why NOT to bet the Rockets: The addition of Paul adds another star to the team but as effective as the offense was last season, he cannot just be inserted and expect it to get better. The Rockets relied on threes and dunks but Paul is a mid-range player so the offense will have to be adjusted to fit around the parts. That could be a problem on both ends of the floor so early on, Houston could struggle. While the Rockets got better with key additions, the Western Conference got better as a whole as well.

Season Win Total Pick: Over 55.5 -132

San Antonio Spurs (2016-17: 61-21 SU, 41-39-2 ATS)

Odds to Win the Division: +130
Season Win Total: Over 54.5 -130/Under 54.5 +110

Why TO bet the Spurs: Year in and year out, the Spurs are the best coached team in the NBA and Greg Popovich brings the best out of his team in his system. After winning 61 games last season, the Spurs did not do much in the offseason but it was not necessary as they were No. 2 in the West last year. San Antonio signed Rudy Gay to add some solid depth off the bench and I still possesses one of the most underrated players in the NBA in Kawhi Leonard and it showed after he went down in the playoffs.

Why NOT to bet the Spurs: Even though we say it every year and it backfires, San Antonio is not getting any younger. Tony Parker is hurt, Manu Ginobili is coming back for his 16th season and Pau Gasol is 37. As we saw in the playoffs, the Spurs are a Leonard injury away of calling it a season as there is no one on the roster that can carry this team. That includes LaMarcus Aldridge who has averaged 17.6 ppg in two seasons after averaging over 22 ppg in his last five seasons in Portland.

Season Win Total Pick: Under 54.5 +110

New Orleans Pelicans (2016-17: 34-48 SU, 39-42-1 ATS)

Odds to Win the Division: +1400
Season Win Total: Over 39.5 -112/Under 39.5 -104

Why TO bet the Pelicans: The experiment to have Anthony Davis coexist with DeMarcus Cousins failed to get the Pelicans into the playoffs nut they were together for only 25 games last season. Now together for a full season, the potential is there to be one of the best frontcourts we have ever seen. Couple that with the resigning of Jrue Holiday and the signing of Rajon Rondo, and this is a legitimate playoff contender. New Orleans is in the weakest division of the Western Conference which does not hurt.

Why NOT to bet the Pelicans: While 25 games is not a big sample size, it is big enough to show that the two big guys might not be able to work together. They will both stuff the boxscore but individual performances will not help as working together to be more efficient goes a long way. Holiday is being moved to the two-spot to make room for Rondo so that could take time. There is very little depth coming off the bench so Alvin Gentry could have his hands full in saving his job.

Season Win Total Pick: Over 39.5 -112

Memphis Grizzlies (2016-17: 43-39 SU, 41-41 ATS)

Odds to Win the Division: +2000
Season Win Total: Over 37.5 -124/Under 37.5 +106

Why TO bet the Grizzlies: The core of the Grizzlies has been together for a while now so there is no learning curve like a lot of other teams in the Western Conference have to endure. Memphis did lose Zack Randolph and Tony Allen but there is not a big dropoff especially if Chandler Parsons can stay healthy. He was a huge disappointment as he played just 34 games and averaged only 6.2 ppg because of a knee injury. If he gets back to his Rockets/Mavericks form, it will be huge for the Grizzlies.

Why NOT to bet Grizzlies: While the core is still in place, Memphis will be playing faster this season as their old system of being a slower paced team does not work in this conference. This could take time to come together. Going faster also means their defense will be hurt which was a No. 7 unit last season. The Grizzlies made no big free agent signings in the off season to close the gap and come February, they could be once again fighting for a bottom seed in the playoffs.

Season Win Total Pick: Under 37.5 +106

Dallas Mavericks (2016-17: 33-49 SU, 43-38-1 ATS)

Odds to Win the Division: +5000
Season Win Total: Over 35.5 Even/Under 35.5 -117

Why TO bet the Mavericks: This is a team in transition and as is the case with a lot of teams like this, there is value to be had as people are already writing them off. The Mavericks had the sixth worst record in the Western Conference but the third best record against the number which proves that. Harrison Barnes, Wes Matthews and Seth Curry form a nice nucleus and rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is expected to be the real deal. Dirk Nowitzki is back and while he is on the decline, he can still be clutch.

Why NOT to bet the Mavericks: Nowitzki is no longer the dominant player he used to be and the Mavericks are coming off their worst season in 17 years so things are not looking good for this once proud franchise. The Mavericks will be relying on a rookie to lead the team at the point and if Smith cannot adjust quickly, it will be a long season. Dallas resigned center Nerlens Noel and while he is a solid defender, his offense is not where it needs to be. A lot of questions surround the Mavericks.

Season Win Total Pick: Over 35.5 Even