The NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday and I will have a free pick in the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets, which will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The game has a start time of 9:30 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Current Vegas betting odds have Houston listed as 5.5 point favorites, while the total is set at 210.
Analysis: The Dallas Mavericks have not really played well in the 2nd half of the season and seem to be the team that everyone wants to play in the first round. For the year Dallas went 50-32 overall, which includes marks of 27-14 at home 23-18 on the road and 29-23 vs the Western Conference. Dallas did win 4 of their last 5 games of the season, but 4 of those games were vs non-playoff teams. Dallas has gone 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 Conference Quarterfinals games, but just 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road games vs. a team with a winning home record and 1-4 ATS the last 5 games in Houston. The Mavericks have been a very good offensive team this year, ranking 3rd in scoring (105.2 ppg), 5th in shooting, 13th in 3 point shooting and 16th in FT shooting. Defensively the Mavericks have not been so good this year, ranking 25th in points allowed (102.3 ppg), 16th in defensive FG% and 27th in 3 point defense.
The Houston Rockets had a very solid year and ended up winning the Southwest Division on the last day of the season. This is a team that is dealing with injuries, but still is a dangerous team that could be a very tough out in the playoffs. The Rockets went 56-26 on the year, which includes a 30-11 mark at home. Houston has gone 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games vs. a team with a winning road record and 7-1 ATS in their last 8 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game. The Rockets have be a solid offensive team this year, ranking 6th in scoring (103.9 ppg), 20th in shooting, 14th in 3 point shooting and 27th in FT shooting. Defensively the Rockets have been average this year, ranking 17th in points allowed (100.5 ppg), 12th in defensive FG% and 1st in 3 point defense.
Pick: I will take a shot at the over in this game. Dallas has played many high scoring games of late and their defense has been horrible this year. The Rockets have the ability to score plenty, especially at home and they will be taking on a Dallas team that has allowed 112 ppg in their last 5 games. For the Record Houston has scored 110 ppg in their last 8 games, while their defense has allowed 104 ppg over the same stretch. Both teams will get up and down the floor here and put at least 215 points on the board.
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