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Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks Betting Preview

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/31/2020

The NBA is returning to action in a way we've never seen; 22 teams playing inside of a "bubble" staged in Orlando, Florida. One of the first games we are set to see are the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks, two Western Conference rivals who feel like they are in a position to contend and win the most unique NBA championship in league history.

Here is a preview for Friday night's contest in Orlando, along with a free pick by Gameadvisers. Currently, the Rockets are slight -1 favorites. 

Rockets Outlook 

The Rockets may be the most unique team in the league, going all-in with a "small ball" strategy that eliminates big men and puts on emphasis on shooting. While they struggled to figure out their footing during a four-game losing streak, Houston won their final game before the NBA season went on hiatus. Overall, the Rockets went 40-24, good for 6th in the West.

This is another team that is led by a superstar duo. Former MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook are ready to put any previous postseason struggles behind them after months of rest and rejuvenation. Before the shutdown, Harden was running away with the scoring title, averaging 34.4 points per game on 43.5% shooting. The "Beard" also averaged 7.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds in close to 37 minutes a night. His new teammate Westbrook has been able to continue putting up the gaudy numbers we saw in Oklahoma City, averaging 27.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The supporting cast of Houston has changed a bit over the years, but offers plenty of help on both sides of the ball. Trade deadline acquisition Robert Covington is a do-it-all forward who can play solid defense on the other side. P.J. Tucker has stepped up into being the small-ball center, while Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers are a pair of guards who can get you points. Veterans DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Green help give Houston one of the deeper benches in the league.

Mavericks Outlook 

After a couple of down years and the retirement of longtime star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks returned to relevancy in 2019-20. Dallas won six out of their last 10, including their final game of the regular season against the Nuggets, to finish 40-27. Their record put them at seventh place in the West, just behind the Rockets.

The role of "face of the franchise", previously held by Nowitzki, now belongs to the 21-year old superstar Luka Doncic. In his second season in the NBA, Doncic had elevated himself into the MVP conversation, averaging just shy of 29 points per game to go along with approximately nine rebounds and nine assists. Doncic's abiity to take over a game as well as set up his teammates has given Dallas a chance to pull off some upsets in the postseason. Meanwhile, his right-hand man has been Kristaps Porginzis. The former Knick had some trouble staying healthy during the season, but averaged 19 points per game and 9.5 rebounds and appears to be ready to play in Orlando.

Dallas has filled out their roster with shooters and play-makers from the win. At guard, Jalen Brunson and Delon Wright are a couple guys who can take over point guard duties if Doncic isn't at the moment, while Seth Curry has developed into one of the better three-point shooters in the league. Tim Hardaway Jr. has also had a solid season as one of the main forwards in the lineup, while Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell are a pair of big men who can rebound and play effective defense on the other end. Courtney Lee and the big Boban Marjanovic are also with the Mavs in Orlando and ready to play. 

Previous Matchups 

The Rockets and Mavericks met just twice in the regular season, with both matchups ending with a lot of points on the scoreboard. The first game was back in November, where Doncic's 41 points bested Harden's 32-11-9 line as Dallas won 137-123 on the road in Houston. But the Rockets won the rematch in their home arena at the end of January by a score of 128-121, thanks in large part to Harden's 35 points and 16 rebounds as well as Westbrook's 32 points. 

Prediction 

In the first two meetings between these two teams, points were flying for both teams. Now with all of the months of break, I expect the defense to be in less-than-championship shape for both sides, leading to less defense and more offense.

To me, I wonder if the Rockets will take these seeding games to work on their chemistry. They hadn't quite figured out how to master the small-ball lineup before the season was suspended, so I can't imagine they'll have the chemistry down completely on Friday. Harden and Westbrook being rested will help, but I think Doncic, Porzingis and the Mavericks have the edge with chemistry and size. I'm picking Dallas t get the win Friday night in Orlando.

Head to our favorite pay per head bookie site PayPerHead247 and bet the Mavericks +1 

More pay per head tips:

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