NBA Pick on Dallas Mavericks ATS in Game 1 at Houston

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, April 18, 2015 2:01 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Saturday.

 



Two division rivals open up play Saturday night in the first game of the NBA Playoffs when the seventh seeded Dallas Mavericks (50-32, 23-18 away) pay a visit to the second seeded Houston Rockets (56-26, 30-11 home) in Game 1 from the Toyota Center in Houston, TX at 9:35 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Dallas as a moderate underdog for this contest with the current line at +5 with odds of -107.


All Hail the Southwest Division!
It is not surprising that one of the first round matchups pits two teams from the Southwest Division, as that division sent all five teams to the NBA Playoffs when the last place Pelicans secured a bid on the final day of the season by beating their division mates from San Antonio!

Every game was meaningful for the Rockets as they did not secure the second seed and division title until winning their last three games of the regular season, where just one loss in any of those three games could have meant finishing as low as the sixth seed. Houston cemented the two seed and won the Southwest by being the winning NBA pick 117-91 over the Utah Jazz in the season finale.

The Mavericks meanwhile have not really played a pressurized game in a while as it was inevitable for the last several weeks that they would finish as the seven-seed. Now that can work either way as they may be a bit rusty as a result or they may be rejuvenated and step up their game. We expect the latter as Dallas is a veteran team with a very good coach in Rick Carlisle that was able to rest his veterans at times down the stretch.


Injuries Could Hurt Rockets?
The Rockets won three of the four regular season meeting between these teams but every game was close and the two wins here in Houston came by just three and five points respectively. However, the Rockets were relatively healthy then and that is not the case now with Patrick Beverley and Donatas Montiejunas both out for the season.

Granted the Rockets have an MVP candidate in James Harden, who just missed winning the NBA scoring title with his 27.4 points per game to Russell Westbrook of the Thunder. Still, because of the Houston injuries, Joey Dorsey and Jason Terry should get extended minutes, with Dorsey being a non-factor offensively and Terry not scaring opposing defenses either at this advanced stage of his career.

That leaves Terrance Jones and Trevor Ariza as the other more reliable scoring options besides “The Beard,” with Ariza also getting a bit long in the tooth, and center Dwight Howard has been spotty offensively since returning from his knee injury. Houston needs the “good” Howard to show up to give Harden some support, and that is far from a given these days.


Veterans Have Done it Before
The Mavericks are a tough team to defend with scorers at every position, as evidenced by ranking third in the NBA in scoring with 105.2 points per game and fifth in field goal percentage at 46.3 percent. Granted Dirk Nowitzki is not what he once was and Rajon Rondo has clashed with Carlisle since being acquired by Dallas from the Celtics in mid-season, but Nowitzki played much better late in the year and both have shined in past NBA Playoffs.

As mentioned, the Mavericks played the Rockets tough in every game this season and if Nowitzki and Rondo can elevate their games for the playoffs as they have oftentimes done in the past, then the Mavericks may be able to avoid the first-round elimination many have predicted for them this season.

Of course one major concern is a Dallas defense ranked 25th in the NBA in points against at 102.3 per game, but that can be covered up by Carlisle in this series by usually needing to guard only three Rockets at a time, especially when Dorsey is in the game for Houston.


Parsons Back for Dallas
While the Rockets are dealing with injuries, the Mavericks will now be at full strength with former Rocket Chandler Parsons returning for these playoffs after missing the last six games of the season with a knee injury. Parsons finished third on the team in scoring with his 15.7 points per game while also adding 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest.

At the very least look for Dallas to take this game right down to the wire like it did in every game vs. Houston this season even in defeat, with an outright upset in Game 1 far from an impossibility on Saturday.

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NBA Pick: Mavericks +5 (-107)