The Rockets battle the Mavericks in an intriguing Western Conference clash on Friday. Here’s a complete preview, including updated odds and our betting pick.
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
Friday, July 31, 2020 – 09:00 PM EDT at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida
Eric Gordon Out for the Rockets
Rockets guard Eric Gordon landed awkwardly before halftime in the scrimmage game against the Celtics on Tuesday and sprained his left ankle. ESPN reported that Gordon’s injury will force him to be out 1-2 weeks.
This means that he could miss the games against the Mavericks, Trail Blazers, Bucks and Lakers. These are four huge contests for the Rockets, who can’t afford to lose more ground in the Western Conference standings.
Houston had just seven wins in their last 13 games, not ideal when fighting for positioning in a tight race. James Harden and most of this roster have gone through many playoff disappointments together. Now, they're looking for redemption in the NBA bubble.
This is a veteran team with the tools to go all the way. Even with Eric Gordon out for a while. The Rockets have had plenty of time to rest up and Robert Covington’s addition is underrated.
Mavericks Have an Incomplete Roster
Depth will be a problem for the Mavericks. Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson have both been ruled out for the rest of the season because of right Achilles and shoulder injuries respectively.
Courtney Lee will also miss the rest of the year with a calf injury suffered in the practices during the NBA hiatus. Willie Cauley-Stein, who was acquired to help replace Powell, opted out of the NBA restart due to the recent birth of his son.
The Mavericks now have 14 available players (including both two-way players) after signing backup point guard Trey Burke. This wasn’t supposed to be their year, just a crucial step on their way to contention in the near future. Still, a team led by Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis can be competitive against anyone and beat the NBA odds.
With Gordon out, Austin Rivers, Ben McLemore and Danuel House will have more game time and they also need Luc Mbah a Moute, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Green to step up in a bigger role against the Mavs.
If Dallas wants to win this game, Boban Marjanovic (plus-1.7 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) has to be a significant contributor against Houston's small ball.
The 7' 4" center had a career-high 31 points with 17 rebounds in a 113-97 win against Nuggets on March 11th and he has to be productive at both ends of the floor.
We can't ask him to put up over 30 points again but he scored in double figures in three games against the Nets in the playoffs last year and a similar effort would really help the Mavericks on Friday.
I get why the Mavericks are favored here but I have to go with the Rockets for my NBA picks because of their depth. Harden and Westbrook want to make a statement and this team has underrated players who can prove their worth and make up for Gordon's loss.