Houston (38-39) at Dallas (39-38)
When: Wednesday, April 6th 2016
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Time: 9:35 ET | TV: ESPN
The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are both in a battle with the Utah Jazz for the final two spots in the Western Conference Playoff race and will meet Wednesday in Dallas. The Rockets are currently the team on the outside looking in, but will have a big chance to move up with a win in Dallas and a favorable schedule. Houston will end the season with four games against non-playoff teams – Phoenix, L.A. Lakers, Minnesota, and Sacramento. The Rockets are a game behind Dallas (who is 7th) and just a half game behind the Jazz for the 8th spot after Utah’s loss to the Spurs last night. The Rockets are just 4-6 in their last ten games, but three of those victories came against Toronto, Cleveland, and most recently, Oklahoma City. James Harden scored 15 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 118-110 win over the win over the Thunder as Houston stayed aggressive and battled back from a double-digit deficit.
The Mavericks have reeled off four straight victories after a three-game skid in which they allowed a ton of points (124 points allowed in previous five games). Dallas’ last four opponents have averaged just 86 points while J.J. Barea (10.9 points, 4.1 assists), who was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, has taken over for the injured Deron Williams (sports hernia) and averaged 23.5 points and 6.8 assists in the four victories. Dallas does not know when Williams will return and is without Chandler Parsons (knee) the rest of the way, but Barea and rookie Justin Anderson are stepping up in their absence. Anderson moved into the starting lineup at the start of the winning streak and his length and athleticism on the wing are big parts of the team’s defensive improvement. Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t been on top of his game during the current streak and is 21-of-76 from the field in the last four games.
Dallas is just playing better than Houston is right now especially on defense. This is a must-win for Houston or they’re in trouble. The Mavericks are getting points at home and I can’t pass that up.
Pick: Mavericks +2