NBA Expert Betting Picks: Finding Over/Under Value in Rockets vs. Mavs

Credit:

Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden (13) and Russell Westbrook (0) of the Houston Rockets.

Jul 31, 2020, 07:44 PM EDT
  • The NBA will finish off its second night in Orlando with a Western Conference bang featuring the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.
  • The Rockets will be without key guard Eric Gordon, but it does seem Mike D'Antoni is going to unleash his stars in James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
  • What's going to happen when these two elite offenses meet? Is the total high enough? Our experts weigh in.

Yesterday’s Orlando kickoff didn’t disappoint with both games coming down to the wire. The Jazz were able to come back late and steal a win vs. the Pelicans thanks to clutch free throws from Rudy Gobert, while LeBron James was the last minute hero in a Lakers victory over the Clips.

Friday’s slate is even bigger and equally compelling, especially the evening games with the Celtics vs. Bucks and the Rockets vs. Mavs.

Our staff is here to break down their favorite bets of the day from the following three games:

  • 6:30 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
  • 8 p.m. ET: Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs
  • 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks

Friday NBA Betting Picks


Odds as of Friday at noon ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Matt LaMarca: Bucks vs. Celtics

Bucks odds -5 [BET NOW]
Celtics odds +5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -195/+163 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 218.5 [BET NOW]
Time 6:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

This is a tough game to handicap, but I’m going to roll the dice with Milwaukee.

Motivation and health issues aside, the Bucks have been an absolute force over the past two years. Getting the opportunity to back them as such small favorites is pretty appealing, as they’ve dominated over the past two years when favored by fewer than 10 points.

As long as the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, they will always be an appealing bet in this situation when favored by single digits.

There could also be some value on the over. These two teams have combined for at least 221 points in both prior meetings this season, including 251 points in their last outing. The Bucks defense has also allowed roughly 2.5 additional points per 100 possessions with Eric Bledsoe off the court.

Add in the fact that Kemba Walker is reportedly going to be limited to just 18-20 minutes in this first game, and I like it even more.

[See Matt LaMarca’s full Celtics-Bucks breakdown here.]

The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -4.5 (play up to -5.5)

[Bet $20+ on the Bucks at PointsBet and Win $125 if they make at least one 3-pointer]

Matt Moore: Rockets vs. Mavericks

Rockets odds +2 [BET NOW]
Mavericks odds -2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +115/-125 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 230 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

The Mavericks were a prolific offense this season, and that carried through to the scrimmages we saw this month. Against the Rockets, the Mavs posted a 120 Offensive Rating or better in two games.

The second-best player in Net Rating differential vs. Houston for Dallas? Kristaps Porzingis, who the Mavericks were +12 with and -25 without this season against the Rockets.

The worst player? Dwight Powell, a -25.9 in 26 minutes vs. the Rockets. Powell is injured and out for the season.

The Rockets’ small-ball attack is vulnerable to two things: bigs who can score down low, and slips from screens when they switch. The former is not Porzingis’ forte. He’s not a much of a banger in the paint. But he can roll and hit short-range jumpers all day if the Rockets switch.

Meanwhile, Luka Doncic feasts in isolation. Doncic averaged 1.12 points per possession in isolation vs. switches, per Synergy Sports.

Throw in that the Mavericks bench helped carry them to the best Offensive Rating in second quarters, and you have a formula here that explains why Dallas is favored by 1.5 despite being one seeding spot and several games behind Houston.

I don’t want the over; Dallas’ defense has been sneakily improving and I’m concerned a cold stretch from Houston’s shooters with Eric Gordon out could sink it. But I’ll take the Mavericks’ team total at 115 when I think they probably push this into the 120s pretty easily.

The Pick: Mavericks team total over 115

[Bet now at DraftKings and Win $250 if James Harden scores at least 10 points tonight]

Brandon Anderson: Kings vs. Spurs

Kings odds -3 [BET NOW]
Spurs odds +3 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -150/+125 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 221 [BET NOW]
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

You probably look at this game as two mostly irrelevant teams playing a mostly irrelevant game. In some minds, the No. 8 seed out West is already down to the Grizzlies, Pelicans, or Trail Blazers; the Kings and Spurs are just in Orlando as eye candy.

The Kings were charging hard when the season went on hiatus, though, and won 10 of their last 15 games. De’Aaron Fox was finally healthy and playing well since the turn of the calendar, and the team was in great shape to make a playoff push. I look for the Kings to stay right in the thick of the playoff race.

And don’t forget about two key injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge for the Spurs and Marvin Bagley for the Kings. Aldridge is San Antonio‘s best player, and they don’t have any real replacement for him on the roster. Bagley isn’t any good, and the Kings are consistently far better with him off the court even if they are pushing him in the playing time because of their high investment.

These two teams are headed in opposite directions. I will happily ride the Kings for the win here.

The Pick: Kings -3 (I’d bet this up to -4)

[Bet $20+ on the Kings at PointsBet and Win $125 if they make at least one 3-pointer]

Bryan Mears: Kings vs. Spurs

With LaMarcus Aldridge off the floor this season, the Spurs have actually been more efficient offensively. And perhaps even more importantly, he’s had one of the strongest impacts on his team’s pace than pretty much any player in the NBA. When he’s off the court, the Spurs run at a  much higher rate and thus get easier looks at the basket.

On the Kings’ side of things, they were really coming into form before the COVID-19 shutdown, and De’Aaron Fox was putting together another sneaky second half of the season. When he’s on, he’s one of the best players at pushing in transition, even if head coach Luke Walton has inexplicably tried to slow him and the team down.

I think this over/under is too low as a result of those factors and would bet it up to 224.

The Pick: Over 221 (I would bet up to 224)

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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