After a crazy deadline day, business resumes as normal Friday, and we've got quite the matchup on our hands with Dallas at home to Houston. Where should we go with our NBA picks tonight?
At time of writing, the Mavericks were favored on the posted NBA betting odds by just two points on their home court. Considering home court advantage is typically worth around three points, it appears odds makers think Houston's the better team at this time. We're not too sure we agree. More on that later.
For those wanting to get in some action on the total, the O/U is trading at 210.5 right, which means we should be in for a highly entertaining, up-tempo battle between these Texas rivals.
Well, that wasn't the way the Mavs would have wanted to start off the second half of the season. Even with Rajon Rondo back in the fold, Dallas was beaten badly by Oklahoma City last night, losing 104-89. The Mavs didn't even come close to covering as five-point underdogs on the road.
A poor second quarter, in which Rick Carlisle's team was outscored by 10, put Dallas in a hole they couldn't escape from. The Mavericks were ice cold from the field overall, shooting a poor 36.3 percent from the floor. Rajon Rondo was no match for an unstoppable Russell Westbrook in his return from injury, shooting just 2-of-9 for five points with six assists. Rondo had a plus-minus of -20 in the loss, though the rest of the starting five didn't do much better.
Fortunately for the Mavs, they quickly get a chance to redeem themselves, and they'll be happy to be back at home for this encounter with James Harden and the Rockets. It remains to be seen whether new acquisition Amare Stoudemire will be in uniform for tonight, but he would be a welcome addition, especially with Dallas having played last night and potentially having heavy leagues. Either way, the Mavs have more than enough depth to cope with the demands of two games in two nights, particularly since we just got done with a week-long break for the All Star festivities. There shouldn't be any excuses.
Reflecting on the first half of the season, it's hard to find all that much wrong with how the Rockets performed. Even with injuries getting in the way and some rotation changes and trades, Houston has continued to chug along and pick up wins.
Right now the Rockets are in the fourth spot in the Western Conference with a 36-17 record. They've been equally good on the road as they've been at home and seem to only be growing and forming more and more chemistry with each passing game. But, let's be real here: most of Houston's success has come because of Harden, who is having an MVP-caliber season for Kevin McHale's squad.
Harden has been simply sensational all season long. He's averaging 27.4 PPG, 6.8 APG and 5.7 RPG thus far and has an amazing PER of 27.39. He's had to carry even heavier of a load with Dwight Howard missing a bunch of time through injury, and Harden has risen to the occasion countless times already. The Bearded One will need another big game this evening to give Houston any chance of winning this road contest.
As bad as the Mavericks looked last night, we're going back to the well and will be recommending them again this evening.
Houston is obviously a formidable foe, but the Mavs are one of the few teams out there that have the personnel to keep up with Harden and friends.
We expect the public to shy away from Dallas here and think odds makers have overvalued the Rockets a little bit in this spot. With that in mind, we'll be rolling with the Mavericks to win by at least three, making amends for last night's defeat in Oklahoma City in the process.
NBA Pick: Dallas Mavericks -2 at 5Dimes