Rockets vs. Mavericks Odds & Picks: Is Saturday the Start of Dallas’ Climb? (Jan. 23)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic.
- Saturday's NBA slate features a Lone Star State showdown between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.
- The Mavericks are heavy favorites for this matchup. Could they start their ascent up the Western Conference standings with a win?
- Nick Alfano breaks down this game and shares his betting pick below.
Rockets vs. Mavericks Odds
|Moneyline||+390 / -530|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Friday night 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.|
It’s a Saturday night Lone Star State showdown, as the Dallas Mavericks host the new-look Houston Rockets.
This is the second game in as many nights for both squads and the fifth in the last week for Dallas. I’m intrigued to see if fatigue becomes a factor in this one, especially for the Mavericks, as they most likely will be without impact players Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell once again.
Heading into their Friday matchups, Dallas has lost three of four, and Houston is just reeling.
Yes, the recent addition of Victor Oladipo is cause for cautious optimism and John Wall has been held out with a knee injury (and will be sidelined at least through the weekend), so we will see a better version of the Rockets soon.
Yet, they have lost seven of their last nine and have a better record than only the Timberwolves in the Western Conference.
Houston will want to compete with its in-state rival, but Dallas has the clear upper hand at the American Airlines Center on Saturday.
I do not envy the situation this new Rockets regime has inherited. Come Summer 2021, this team will have a lottery pick, most likely in the top 10.
As it pertains to this season and this matchup for the Rockets, my analysis also does not shine favorably.
Prior to Friday’s NBA slate, Houston ranked 24th in Offensive Rating (107.3) and has the worst Assist-to-Turnover Ratio in the league (1.4, NBA Advanced Stats).
Not only is Wall out through the weekend at the bare minimum, but Most Improved Player of the Year candidate Christian Wood missed Friday’s game against the Pistons and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Mavericks.
P.J. Tucker has been another sore spot for Houston this season.
I hate to say this, especially because I have a friend that shoots exclusively with him in NBA 2K, but he ranks in the bottom-30 of Individual Defensive Rating and bottom-40 in Net Rating of all players who average more than 15 minutes per game and have made at least three appearances (NBA Advanced Stats).
If someone told me in December that the Rockets were playing the Mavericks without James Harden, Wall and Wood, I’d take Dallas no matter what the spread was. And that’s exactly what I’m doing on Saturday.
If you had asked Rick Carlisle what he would want the Mavericks’ record to be after 14 games, I guarantee he’d say something better than 7-7. That being said, with health and safety protocols sidelining key role players and Kristaps Porzingis missing the first nine games of the year, a .500 record can be considered an admirable performance.
It will take time for Porzingis to adjust to 30-plus minutes of floor time per outing, but if his last game against Indiana is an indication of what’s to come, the league better watch out. He netted 27 points, grabbed 13 boards and shot 80% from the field.
As a team, Dallas has fallen off from their historic 2019-20 offensive performance. However, the Mavs’ defense has filled that void.
The Mavericks rank sixth in Defensive Rating (106.9) and sixth in Opponent Effective Field Goal Percentage (51.4%). More specifically, they hold the second-best Opponent 3-Point Percentage in the league at 32.5% (NBA Advanced Stats).
Dallas also ranks fifth in Opponent Points Off Turnovers (15.7), an important attribute when playing against the Rockets who love to get out and run off turnovers (NBA Advanced Stats).
Give Doncic and Porzingis another week with the whole team healthy, and they’ll be humming like a Lamborghini down the PCH. The defense is already intact, and the offense will catch up.
I see this weekend as the beginning of the Mavericks’ gradual climb up the Western Conference standings. The over on their win total was a popular preseason bet, and I see this team as a 48-or-more-win team in this condensed season, when healthy.
The Doncic-Porzingis tandem will only get better as the season continues, and strong performances from a starter like Tim Hardaway Jr. exponentially increases the chance of a Dallas victory.
A core of Oladipo, Wall, Wood and a plethora of future picks is an encouraging sign of progress for Houston in the post-Harden era. But with two of those three current roster members most likely not playing, I cannot back this team.
Ride Dallas, and hope they play like the Western Conference semifinalist it can be.
Pick: Mavericks +10