The Houston Rockets made easy work of the San Antonio Spurs to even their series 2-2 on Sunday. James Harden led the way with 28 points and Houston used hot shooting from behind the arc to win 125-104. After a night of bombing triples should you bet or fade the Rockets?
Houston has been incredible from long-range this season. The team set an NBA record for most three pointers made in a season (1,181). In Game 4, the Rockets made 19-of-43 (44.2%) shots from downtown. This was the 24th game of the season when the team made 40% or more of their three point attempts. The Rockets are 23-1 straight-up and 20-4 against-the-spread in those games.
So how does Houston perform in the next game after being hot from behind the arc? In games after the Rockets made 40% or more of their three point attempts, Houston went 11-12 straight-up and 10-13 against-the-spread.
Since December the results have been worse. Before the season began the Rockets were +10000 to win the title and before December, on average, Houston was favored by just half a point in games after shooting +40% from downtown. By December, once the league started taking James Harden and crew seriously, the Rockets future odds were down to +5000 (6th best in the league) and the team on average has been favored by 4.1 points in games after shooting +40% from behind the arc. The team is 7-10 straight-up and 6-11 ATS in those games.
Clearly, the Rockets aren’t a lock to win or cover in games following a successful barrage from three-point land. There are a couple reasons why. First, it is difficult for any team, even one as good as Houston, to consistently make a high number of three point attempts game-in and game-out. Second, the public will often back a team after a big offensive performance. Houston received 50% or more of spread bets in 20 of the 23 games after making 40% or more of their three pointers. That public support or anticipation of public support could artificially inflate the line.
In Game 5, the Spurs opened as 6-point favorites. In early betting action more than 60% of spread wagers are on the Rockets. We are only looking at one season of data but the trend suggests fading Houston after its big performance from behind the arc.
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