After a Thursday that featured a pair of games on “reopening” night of the NBA season, the rest of the teams are set to get underway on Friday. Two of those teams are the Houston Rockets (40-24) and Dallas Mavericks (40-27), who will take part in a Western Conference and an intrastate matchup. Tipoff for this one is scheduled for 9:00 pm ET from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena at Walt Disney World.
For the Rockets, they come into this one sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference. They currently sit tied with the Thunder at 40-24 and just a game behind the 4th place Utah Jazz. They will take the next three weeks to try to improve in their seeding heading into the postseason.
For the Mavericks, they come in just 1.5 games behind the Rockets as they currently sit in 7th place. A win Friday night could help them to close the gap and work towards improving their postseason positioning.
According to FanDuel, the Dallas Mavericks come into this one as 1.5-point favorites. The over/under on points scored sits at 227.
By The Numbers
Neither of these teams is particularly stellar on the defensive end. The Dallas Mavericks currently rank 15thoverall as they are allowing 110.3 points per game. For the Rockets, they fall to 22nd overall, allowing 114.4 points per game.
While both of these teams struggle on the defensive end, they are both elite on the offensive side. The Houston Rockets currently rank 2nd in scoring, just behind the Milwaukee Bucks, as they average 118.1 points per game. The Mavericks come in 3rd overall averaging 116.4 points per game.
With little defense and stellar offenses, it is no wonder why the over/under is set at 227.
Rockets Looking To Pick Up Where They Left Off
The Houston Rockets come into this one as one of the best offensive teams in the league. They are led by the two-headed monster of James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
For Harden, in 61 games, he averaged 34.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. Harden shot 43.5% from the field, including 35.2% from behind the three. For Westbrook, he averaged 27.5 points on 47.4% shooting, eight rebounds, and seven assists in 53 games before the shutdown.
The Rockets got a little bit of encouraging news after x-rays came back on Eric Gordon’s ankle. Gordon had to be helped off the floor during a scrimmage against Boston on Tuesday after landing on Celtics’ center, Vincent Poirier’s foot.
While it is encouraging that he may be back sooner than later, he won’t be ready for Friday’s game. For the Rockets, that means missing out on his 14.5 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Still, even without Gordon, the Rockets are loaded offensively.
Dallas Out To Prove They Are Best In Lone Star State
For the Dallas Mavericks, Friday’s matchup isn’t just about playoff seeding but also about bragging rights in Texas. Dallas comes into this one 3-7 in their last ten matchups against the Rockets and would love to reverse their recent fortunes against the Rockets.
Leading the way for Dallas will be Luka Doncic. In 54 games before the break, Doncic averaged 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists and made an argument as a contender for the NBA MVP award.
Aside from Doncic, the Mavericks have plenty of other talent on the team. Kristaps Porzingis (19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks), Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds), and Seth Curry (12.6 points) are all major contributors for the Mavericks.
Taking The Rockets And The Points
Part of the challenge of betting on the first few days of the reopening is anticipating how players and teams will adjust to a lot of variables. There is the fact they have been off for months, playing real games in front of no crowds, lingering concerns of the pandemic as well as being away from their usual sense of routine during an NBA season.
With so many variables at play, the reopening can be a little unpredictable. Before the shutdown, these two teams are very comparable in that they both have elite scoring and so-so defense. As a result of all of the uncertainty, I feel inclined to take the team getting the points. As a result, for my money, I am taking Houston at +1.5 in this one.