The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks open their restart against each other on July 31, 2020.
The Rockets and Mavericks are ranked next to each other in the current NBA standings. Houston is in 6th place with a 40-24 record while Dallas is 7th at 40-27. The Mavs are just 1.5 games behind the rockets for the 6th seed and are just 2.5 games off the 4th placed Utah Jazz for whatever that’s worth in a tournament that will be played in a single venue.
The Rockets are led by former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook while second-year sensation Luka Doncic and Latvian unicorn Kristaps Porzingis pace the Mavericks in this battle between Southwest Division rivals. Houston has listed Austin Rivers as day to day while Dallas will be without Willie Caulie-Stein and Dwight Powell for this contest. Trey Burke has also been listed a questionable for the Mavs.
The Houston Rockets head to the bubble in 6th place in the NBA’s Western Conference. Houston is just four games behind the second-seeded L.A. Clippers, and that’s an obvious indication of how close and competitive the battle in the West is. The Rockets traded Clint Capela during the trade deadline and have decided to finish this season with a small ball strategy. With P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington as their main big men, Houston is one of the shortest teams invited to the NBA’s bubble tournament.
James Harden led the league in scoring with his 34.4 points per game average. The Beard also averaged a team-best 7.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Russell Westbrook is putting up 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game this season. Eric Gordon is the third scoring option at 14.5 points per game while Robert Covington is averaging 12.8 and 7.9 rebounds for the Rockets.
Houston was the 2nd highest-scoring team in the league at 118.1 points per game but was ranked only 22nd in scoring defense with an average of 114.4 points per game allowed. The Rockets were 14th in rebounding at 44.9 boards grabbed per contest and were next to last in passing at only 21.5 assists per game.
Year two of the Luka Doncic era has seen Mark Cuban’s team emerge as a playoff contender. After winning Rookie of the Year last season, the Slovenian wonder kid has become a legitimate MVP candidate and has taken his game to the next level. Kristaps Porzingis is having a good bounce-back season and the Mavs are in 7th place in the Western Conference. The Mavs will be missing two big men in Powell and Caulie-Stein but against a smaller Houston team, size won’t be a problem for Dallas in this contest.
Doncic is averaging close to a triple-double at 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Porzingis is the team’s leading rebounder and shot-blocker at 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while also putting up 19.2 points per contest. Tim Hardaway Jr. has provided the duo with scoring support at 15.8 points per game while Seth Curry is coming to his own at 12.8 points per game this year.
The Mavericks are the 3rd highest-scoring team in the league at 116.4 points per contest and they are 5th best rebounding team in the NBA at 47.0 boards grabbed per contest. Dallas is ranked 15th in scoring defense at 110.3 points per game allowed and they are also just 14th in passing at 24.5 assists per assignment.
The Rockets are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games but have won just once in their last five assignments. Houston is 4-1 SU in their last five games played against the Western Conference. The Mavericks are also 6-4 SU in their last five games played. Dallas is 5-1 SU in their last six home games and 7-1 SU in their last eight games played against the Western Conference. Head to head, the Rockets have won seven out of the last 10 meetings between these two teams.
This is a pick ‘em game and these teams split their first two meetings of the season. The Rockets are a very small team but they’re in luck here as Dallas won’t have Dwight Powell and Willie Caulie Stein in this game due to injury. That leaves Houston with Porzingis and Boban to deal with. Not that dealing with those two seven-footers is going to be easy but without much depth, Houston should be able to compete off the glass. If they can get the rebounds, then they can run the floor with their two MVPs.
The trio of Harden, Westbrook, and Gordon should be too fast for the Mavericks here. With both teams playing poor defense this season, the team who scores more wins this game. Dallas has one of the best offensive ratings ever but when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard, it’s hard to top the duo of Harden and Westbrook. I like the Rockets to win a good game here.
PREDICTION: HOUSTON ROCKETS
Houston is 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 games played. The Rockets are 2-2-1 ATS in their last five games played on the road, and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games played against the Southwest Division. Dallas is also 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games played. The Mavs are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games against the Southwest Division and 3-2 ATS in their last five home games. Head to head, the Mavericks are 5-1 ATS in their last six games played against the Rockets.
With plenty of scorers from both sides, I don’t think this will be a close game. The Rockets have the edge here with Harden and Westbrook leading the way. Doncic and Porzingis aren’t an easy pair to deal with but the Rockets should be able to take care of business against the Mavericks. Dallas will be there from start to finish but the Rockets close out the show behind their two MVPs.
PREDICTION: HOUSTON ROCKETS -1
The total has gone under in four out of the last six games played by the Rockets. The under is also 6-2 in Houston’s last eight games played on the road. The total has gone under in five out of the last seven games played by the Mavericks. Head to head, the total has gone under in 10 out of the last 15 games between these two teams. The under is also 7-1 in their last eight meetings in Dallas.
These teams have combined to score an average of 215.70 points per game in their last 10 head to head encounters. Although their last two games have produced a total of at least 247 points, I won’t expect these two teams to be offensively sharp after not playing in the last four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the presence of explosive scorers from both teams, I like these teams to play to the under in their first game back since the NBA season was suspended.
PREDICTION: UNDER 226
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