The NBA odds opened with Dallas favored by four points, but that line has quickly risen to 4.5 and even 5 at some betting sites. This season the Mavericks are 20-19 ATS, while the Rockets are 21-17-1 ATS.
A lot of points are expected tonight, which explains the O/U of 213, the highest on the board for tonight. The OVER, by the way, has hit in five of the last seven head-to-head meetings between the teams.
A five-game winning streak for the Rockets, which included home wins over Atlanta and the L.A. Lakers and a road victory over Milwaukee, has been followed by a four-game losing run.
Not only has Houston lost four straight, they haven't really come close to covering the NBA betting lines in any of the defeats either. Last night, for example, the Rockets were favored by three points over a L.A. Clippers team that was missing Chris Paul, but they were outmatched from the opening tip and ended up losing by eight.
Like always, offense wasn't an issue for the Rockets. They shot 50.0 percent overall and nailed 13 threes, but defensively they were all over the place. Houston allowed the Clippers to shoot 53.8 percent overall and 57.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Individual standout performances included James Harden, who had 23 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Jeremy Lin, who came up with a double-double (12 points and 10 assists) despite the loss. Carlos Delfino and Marcus Morris played well off the bench, but clearly it wasn't enough.
No time to rest for Houston though. They've got to quickly forget about that poor effort against L.A. and focus on what to do against an improving Dallas team tonight.
Are the Mavericks finally starting to put it all together?
Riding a three-game winning streak, Dallas will look to make it four in a row tonight. Over the last week they've beaten Sacramento on the road and then beat up on both Memphis (104-83) and Minnesota (113-98).
In the win over the Timberwolves, the Mavericks seemingly couldn't miss. They were at 59.8 percent from the floor, with Dirk Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Vince Carter all scoring at least 10 points apiece.
We figured Dallas' struggles wouldn't continue that much longer as long as they managed to stay healthy, and now we are finally starting to see what this team could be capable of.
While an overall record of 16-23 leaves a lot to be desired, Rick Carlisle's boys have done a pretty decent job of protecting their home court. The Mavericks are 10-7 at home, which leaves them in a good spot to overcome a Houston squad that's just 7-11 on the road.
This is a series that has been dominated by the Mavericks in recent years. They've won eight consecutive meetings straight up and have gone 7-1 ATS in those games.
That includes a 116-109 win back in early December, a game in which Mayo exploded for 40 points on 15-of-26 shooting as well as eight rebounds. Harden wasn't too bad himself, dropping 39 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with nine assists and six rebounds.
Which way are we going tonight with our NBA picks though?
We do like the Mavericks here. They appear to be rounding into form and the presence of Dirk back in the starting lineup, who finally looks to be in game shape, is starting to pay dividends. The Rockets have been horrific defensively, so in the end we think Dallas, with an extra day of rest, will get the best of this matchup and continue their dominance of Houston.NBA Pick: Dallas Mavericks -4.5