Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets (-4.5, 207 o/u)
Despite its winning record, the Dallas Mavericks (30-16, 16-8 away) are experiencing issues on offense. While averaging more than 107 PPG on the season, the squad is currently on a three-game losing streak during which it is averaging only 98.
The losing streak includes a 109-90 loss to the Grizzlies last night in which the Mavs allowed Memphis to shoot better than 53 percent from the floor.
“We’ve got to sustain effort during defensive possessions,” said Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle. “Right now it’s a hard conference. It’s a hard stretch of schedule.”
The Mavs’ difficult schedule continues tonight against the Rockets (31-14, 15-7 home) in Houston, where Dallas has lost three of its last four. The Mavs trail the Rockets by 1.5 games in the Southwest Division.
James Harden has continued his MVP-like season for Houston recently, scoring at least 33 points over the team’s last three games, including 37 in a win over the Lakers (99-87) on Sunday. The former Sun Devil is averaging an NBA-best 27.6 PPG.
But Harden knows that he needs to do more than score for the team to be successful.
“It’s my job to be not only a scorer, but a facilitator,” Harden said. “Make sure everybody is happy, getting good shots. We’ve got to do a better job closing out games. It’s definitely getting there. We’re more than capable of being the best defensive team in the league, but we’ve got to focus on it every game.”
Rockets center Dwight Howard missed the game against L.A. due to a sore ankle and he remains questionable for tonight. The team is expecting to receive a boost from the return of power forward Terrence Jones, though, who has played in just four games this season.
“He had a really strong training camp and at the start of the season he was playing very well, was confident, moving very well, stronger,” said Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. “So right now it’s getting a guy that can move right into your rotation, it’s like making a trade. It’s huge for our team.”
The Rockets are a respectable 4-2 in their last six, with both losses coming against the mighty Golden State Warriors. The team is also 7-3 ATS in its last ten, and 9-7 overall as a home favorite.
The play tonight is the Rockets, laying the points (-4.5).
(Photo credit: Jose Garcia (Flickr: Dwight Howard And Chandler Parsons) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)