NBA Picks: Could the Rockets Win Thursday's Back-to-Back Against Mavericks?

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 2, 2015 1:03 PM GMT

It's the second of a back-to-back for both the Rockets and Mavericks on Thursday night in Dallas in the only game not shown on TNT for the night. Generally that scenario helps the home team and the Mavs are -2 on BetOnline NBA odds with a total of 210.5.

Could Harden Drop 50 Again?
Houston (51-24) is battling Memphis (51-24) for the Southwest Division title and likely the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference behind Golden State.

There's a chance to see an NBA rarity Thursday: back-to-back 50-point games. That's because Houston's James Harden put up a career-high 51 points in Wednesday's 115-111 home win over Sacramento. He was 8-for-9 from 3-point range, and Houston attempted a whopping 40 3-pointers for the 12th time this season, by far the most in the NBA. Only six other teams have had even one game with 40 such attempts.

Somewhat amazingly, considering some of the players the Rockets have had in their history, Harden is the first player in franchise history with two 50-point games in a season. It was his 33rd 30-point game and ninth with at least 40, both tops in the NBA this season. He had scored 50 back on March 19. Harden has now moved into a virtual tie with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook for the NBA scoring lead at 27.6 ppg. While Harden might win his first scoring title, I don't think he will catch Golden State's Stephen Curry in the NBA MVP race. Curry is currently the -400 favorite at Bovada and Harden +300.

The Rockets will have Dwight Howard in the lineup tonight. He's still on a minutes restriction and not playing in both ends of a back-to-back. Rather smartly, I think, the team rested him against a Kings club that isn't any good. In addition, the Rockets got back forward Terrence Jones from injury on Wednesday after missing the previous six. In 32 minutes, Jones had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven blocks. However, earlier this week Houston learned that starting point guard Patrick Beverley was lost for the season due to wrist surgery.

Houston is 43-32 against the NBA betting spread this season and 35-40 'over/under.'

Here's another capper's pick for tonight's Rockets vs. Mavericks. Check it out!

Mavericks Put On Offensive Show
Whichever team gets that second seed probably will play these Mavericks (46-29) as they look pretty set at No. 7. The Mavs are three games behind No. 6 San Antonio and four ahead of No. 8 Oklahoma City.

Dallas won a barnburner on Wednesday, 135-131 in Oklahoma City despite another triple-double from the Thunder's Russell Westbrook. OKC had three guys, including Westbrook, with at least 30 points yet became the first team this century to lose in that scenario. The Mavericks were on fire themselves, shooting 61.5 percent from the field and an incredible 52-for-76 on 2-pointers (4-for-15 from 3-point range). Seven Dallas players scored in double figures, led by Monta Ellis' 26 (he had missed the previous game) and Chandler Parsons' 22. Yet no Mavericks starter had a positive plus/minus rating. Four bench guys did as the Dallas reserves totaled 45 points. The Mavs also had just six turnovers.

There was also history in the game as the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki became the seventh player in league history with 28,000 points. It happened on a 3-pointer with 7:57 remaining. Assuming Dirk plays next year he should pass Shaquille O'Neal for sixth all-time on the scoring list, but it's hard to see Nowitzki getting any higher.

Dallas is 33-40-2 against the spread and 32-42-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.

 

Season Series
Houston leads 2-1, with each team holding serve at home. The first meeting was Nov. 22 in Houston and the Rockets won 95-92 as 4-point underdogs at sportsbooks.  Why would Houston be a home dog? Because Howard was out injured. Harden led the Rockets with 32 points. They were down four with under a minute left before Harden scored five straight points. Trevor Ariza added two free throws with 21 seconds remaining for the final margin. Nowitzki and Ellis each missed 3-pointers in the final seconds. On Jan. 28 in Houston, the Rockets were 4-point favorites and won 99-94. Howard missed that too, but Houston had six guys score in double figures. Ellis led the Mavericks with 33 points. On Feb. 20 in Dallas, the Mavericks prevailed 111-100 as 2.5-point favorites. Houston may have been a tad rusty after a nine-day break with the All-Star week off. No Howard in that game, either. That 11-point win was unusual because 80 percent of the last 20 meetings have been decided by eight points or fewer. Dallas is 20-5 in its past 25 at home during the regular season in this series.

NBA Free Picks: Hard to take much from the previous meetings since no Howard was involved. I'm taking the points with my NBA picks, even though Houston is 1-6 ATS in its past seven in Dallas. Go 'over' the total. The 'over' is 4-1 in the Rockets' past five vs. the West and 5-1 in the Mavericks' past six at home.

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