A Texas Two Step of Picks to Start Your Week

heat rockets

Troy Haliburton

Monday, January 22, 2018 4:09 PM GMT

Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 4:09 PM GMT

The NBA is just a few weeks away from All-Star break, and many teams are in dire need of a week of rest in order to reboot for the playoff push. Monday, we will focus on two matchups in the Lone Star State that could have importance on the playoff races in each conference.

Heat at Rockets

Miami has established itself as one of the better teams in the NBA by winning 12 of its last 16 games. The Heat’s last outing was a thrilling 106-105 victory over the surging Charlotte Hornets. The Heat are using the dynamic play from Goran Dragic to climb the Eastern Conference standings all the way to just a half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third seed -- when Miami was completely out of the playoff seeding a little over a month ago. Another key contributor to the Heat’s success has been shooting guard Wayne Ellington, who made his first start of the season against the Hornets due to an injury to Tyler Johnson. Ellington has supplemented the missing play of Dion Waiters, who is now out for the season with an ankle injury that never really allowed him to play at 100% this season. Ellington is averaging 11.2 points per game and is shooting 38% from three-point range.

The Rockets were struggling over the last two weeks, but that should be of no surprise because they were missing the MVP front-runner, James Harden, with a hamstring injury. Harden returned last week, and by no coincidence the Rockets have won two games in a row over elite competition (Timberwolves and Warriors). The Rockets' win against the Warriors was extremely important because of the fact that they secured the season series win 2-1 and would have the playoff tiebreaker in the event that both teams finish with the same record.

This game is important for both of these teams because neither one would like to stop building momentum heading into All-Star Break. The Heat are 14-11-1 ATS when underdog this season and come in to this one as double-digit dogs. That spread just seems entirely too high.

Free NBA Pick: Heat +10Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Wizards at Mavericks

Washington is in the midst of a two-week, five-game road trip in which the Wizards have already struggled to compete and bring energy on a nightly basis. The Wizards' main problem has been the lack of cohesiveness between their max contract players, John Wall and Otto Porter. Wall is the point guard of the team and his job is to put the other players in the best position to succeed. Porter is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, shooting at a clip of 41% from beyond the arc.

The problem that arises in Washington is that Porter is pretty much an afterthought in the Wizards' offense as he only takes 9.9 shots per game, while Wall and Bradley Beal both take 18+ shot attempts per contest. It just doesn’t make much sense that the Wizards would take for granted having one of the best shooters on the NBA on their team. Sure, Porter probably has to be a little more assertive in demanding the ball, but Wall’s job is to get every player on the court in their right spots.

Dallas is on a three-game losing streak and almost certainly is one of the teams that will be shutting it down and going into full tank mode after the All-Star Break. The Mavericks never really had enough talent to compete for a playoff spot this season, but Rick Carlisle is too good of a coach for this team to be one of the worst in the entire league. Dallas will look to continue its organizational dominance on the Wizards, having won 16 of their last 18 meetings against the Wizards. Washington is 12-10 on the season ATS in road games.

Free NBA Pick: Wizards -2Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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