Houston Rockets +3.5 (-117) 1H
The Rockets and Lakers have played three times this season, with the Rockets winning and covering the last 2, both after the Capela trade. Overall the Rockets are 2-1 SU & ATS vs. the LAL with a +6 ATS margin.
Whatever that small sample is worth - also consider this - the average line in that game was a PK'em. On February 6th - right after the Capela trade - when we had no idea how this micro-ball experiment would work - the Lakers were only laying 6 AT HOME to these Rockets. Now they're laying 6 to 6.5 on a neutral?
Yes, the Rockets are coming off their game 7 victory over OKC, and that extra energy exerted is a built-in disadvantage for Houston in this game. However, I do not see any wariness showing up in the team until the 2nd half. The opposite to start with actually - I think the Rockets come out the gates feeling that they have a new lease on life.
For their part, the Lakers may also be rusty having not played since last Saturday.
Another disadvantage for the Lakers I think might particularly hamper them in the first half: Rajon Rondo's return.
The Lakes are likely to attempt to re-incorporate Rondo back into the fold this game. I could easily see a -15 2nd quarter for Rondo as they LA goes out of its way to get him reps. In the first half especially, because they'll know if need to they can work themselves out of a jam later in the game. We saw this with the Clippers playing Montrez Harrell back into shape in the Mavericks series. Despite Harrell posting big negative +/- numbers in limited minutes, Doc Rivers kept playing him, knowing that they cannot be at their best until Harrell is back into mid-season form. Same thing with Rondo here - and that long term interest of the Lakers serves our short term purposes here.