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April 20th 2014 - Posted at 11:00 AM Eastern Time

Take the UNDER 215 Total in Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers risking 2%

Today's matchup between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers pits two of the most explosive and highest scoring teams in the league against each other. Although the Blazers have played better defense recently, a strong defensive focus has never been a priority for either of these teams. Because of this the oddsmakers are justified to set the Total higher than other games especially considering the final scores of the previous 4 matchups between these two this season. The truth is however that given the public perception of these two teams, Vegas could have set this total at 220 or even higher and many would still have bet the Over and they would have had even action but they didn't do that. They settled on the interesting number of 216 instead. And even though they opened this total at what could be considered a "low" number for this meeting, the total dipped down to 215 despite over 70% of the public money wagering on the Over!

Looking into this game, there is a lot of past evidence that points to this game going Over the total at first glance. Stats and trends that read like an open book. Those are hard to overlook. However, handicapping and being on the right side rarely comes from just looking at the "easy" information that is widely available. IF that was the case, the most bettor would do a good job of profiting from sports but the opposite is true and that's because much of the publicly available info is in fact more harmful than helpful. We have long advocated that if something looks too easy or too good to be true, then it usually is. We feel that this is one of those cases. There are many historical trends that point to the Over but this game isn't played in history, it'll be played tonight and could unfold in a different way than it previously has. Often times the best way to find the "right" side is to put yourself in the position of the people who set the lines. Now why would they set this total at this fairly low number and risk this game going Over when that seems like the "obvious" choice and is what the majority will be betting? The answer is they wouldn't and there are good reasons behind this total being where it's at. Part of the handicapping process is to be able to accurately "interpret" a spread or a total and to examine why it sits where it does; this happens to be one of those times. And while there are never any guarantees in sports betting since anything can happen, we do believe that we have an above average chance of cashing our ticket by betting the Under.

This game could play out a number of ways. These are two high scoring teams that are fairly efficient on the offensive end. Could this game go Over? Yes there is a possibility. But we are expecting both offenses to struggle more than usual today. Whether it be hitting less than their average of ten 3-pointers a game, or jump shots not falling in. Perhaps the number of fast-break points will be lower or there will be an above average amount of turnovers, whatever the case, we do expect this total to stay under. In the playoffs, teams play tougher defense and the refs are a bit more lenient with physical play sending less players to the foul line. Finally it's worth noting that The Under is 5-1 in Houston's last 6 playoff games.

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