NBA Playoffs Game #3: Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks

2015 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals

 #2 Houston Rockets at #2 Dallas Mavericks
Rockets Lead Best of Seven Series 2-0
Game #3 American Airlines  Center – Dallas, Texas
Friday, April 24, 2015, 7:05 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Dallas -1 1/2
Current Line: Dallas Pick
Opening Total: 214
Current Total: 214 1/2
Opening Money Line: Mavericks -125 / Rockets +105
Current Money Line: Mavericks -115 / Rockets +-105

The Mavericks try to avoid an 0-3 series hole against the Houston Rockets Friday night.
The Mavericks try to avoid an 0-3 series hole against the Houston Rockets Friday night.

When the Dallas Mavericks acquired point guard Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics earlier this season, many thought it would be the piece that made Dallas championship contenders. However, Rondo clashed with Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle. The relationship between the two came to a likely tumultuous end in Tuesday’s game two against the Houston Rockets. Rondo only played 10 minutes including only 36 seconds in the second half and picked up four fouls. He wasn’t mentally engaged at all and was called for an embarrassing 8 second violation when he was loafing bring the ball up the court. The next day It was revealed Rondo is out for the remainder of the series against Houston with a back injury that some people are questioning whether it was legitimate or not. It is likely Rondo who is a free agent this summer has played his last game with the Mavericks.

Dallas will also be without former Rockets forward Chandler Parsons who is out indefinitely with a knee injury that will require surgery. The Mavericks now find themselves down 2-0 against the Rockets without two of their key players. The series shifts to Dallas for games three and four, starting Friday night.

Houston won game one 118-108 and game two 111-99 Tuesday night. In game two, Houston only led by one point going in the fourth, but outscored Dallas 30-19 in the fourth to take control of the series. The Rockets held the Mavs to 37% shooting from the field.

Houston won on a dominant performance from former AAU teammates and friends since childhood  Dwight Howard and Josh Smith. Howard scored 28 points and added 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Smith had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. James Harden scored 24 points with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. For the second straight game, Harden struggled from the field going 5/17 and  scored most of his points at the free throw line with 13. Corey Brewer added 15 points off the bench.

Monta Ellis scored 24 points for the Mavericks with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. J.J. Barea scored 13 points off the bench in relief of Rondo. Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 points and added 13 rebounds. Tyson Chandler scored 11 points and added 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Houston won the Southwest Division by a game over the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs. It was the first division title for the Rockets since 1994 when they won the first of back-to back NBA Championships. Dallas finished fourth in the Southwest six games behind the Rockets. All five Southwest Division teams made the playoffs including the New Orleans Pelicans.

Houston is in the playoffs for the third straight season.  They lost in the first round the last 2 seasons, and haven’t won a  playoff series since 2009. Dallas is in the playoffs for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons, but hasn’t made it out of the first round since winning the championship in 2011.

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Dallas is coached by Rick Carlisle. The Mavericks are 36-46-2 ATS and the total is 39-44-1. Dallas was a 6 point underdog in game #2 and the total was 214.5. Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets are 50-34 ATS and the total is  41-43 this season.

Houston is outscoring teams 104-101 this season. The Rockets are #5 in scoring. Houston is shooting 44.2% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. The Rockets make 71.5% of their free throws and are #27 in that category. Opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 32.1% from 3 point range. Houston leads the league in 3 point defense. The Rockets average 43.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.9 per game. Houston averages 22.2 assists, 16.1 turnovers, 9.5 steals and 4.8 blocks per game.

James Harden is one of the top two MVP candidates along with Golden State’s Stephen Curry. Harden averages 27.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Dwight Howard averages 15.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. He has missed about half the season with various injuries. Trevor Ariza averages 13 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. Donatas Motiejunas is out for the season with a back injury. He averaged 12 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Josh Smith averages 11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Terrance Jones averages 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.  Corey Brewer averages 11.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Patrick Beverley averages 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds 4.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He is out for the season with a broken wrist. K.J. McDaniels  is out with a wrist injury.

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Dallas is outscoring teams 105-102 this season. The Mavericks are 33 in scoring but #25 in points allowed. Dallas is shooting 46.3% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. The Mavericks are #5 in field goal percentage. Dallas makes 75.2% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 45% from the field and 36.4% from 3 point range. The Mavericks are #27 in three point defense. Dallas averages 42.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 46.1 per game. The Mavericks are #23 or worse in both categories. Dallas averages 22.5 assists, 8.1 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.

Monta Ellis averages 18.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game.  Dirk Nowitzki averages 17.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Chandler Parsons averages 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Amar’e Stoudemire 10.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Tyson Chandler averages 10.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.  Rajon Rondo averages 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds 6.5 assists, 1.2 steals. Devin Harris is questionable with a toe injury after missing the last game.

Houston is 6-0 ATS in first round games, 5-0 against Western Conference teams, 4-0 against teams with winning records, and against Southwest teams, 8-1 on two days rest, 6-1 after a straight up win by 10 points or more, 5-1 overall, 6-2 against teams with winning home records, 21-8 after scoring 100 points or more, and 5-2 after a straight up win. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in this series recently. The Rockets have covered 6 of the last 7 games against the Mavericks.

Dallas is 13-5-1 ATS in first round games, 10-21-2 after failing to cover, 13-31-2 against Western Conference teams, 11-27 against teams with winning records, 6-16 overall, 2-6 at home and after a straight up loss of 10 points or more, 1-4 on two days rest, and 0-4 against Southwest teams. The under is 5-1 in this series recently. The home team is 5-1 ATS in this series. The Mavericks are 6-2 ATS against the Rockets in Dallas.

The loss of Rondo might be addition by subtraction for the Mavericks. However, losing Parsons and potentially Harris too is too much to overcome against a good team like the Rockets. The Mavericks might win one game in this series but it won’t go further than 5 games.

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