NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #4: Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks

2015 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals

 #2 Houston Rockets at #7 Dallas Mavericks
Rockets Lead Best of Seven Series 3-0
Game #4 American Airlines  Center – Dallas, Texas
Sunday, April 26, 2015, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Houston -3 1/2
Current Line: Houston -2 1/2
Opening Total: 220 1/2
Current Total: 219
Opening Money Line: Rockets -165 / Mavericks +140
Current Money Line: Rockets -145 / Mavericks +125

Houston looks to finish off the Mavericks in game four Sunday.
Houston looks to finish off the Mavericks in game four Sunday.

Before the playoffs started many thought the Western Conference quarterfinal series between the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets would be one of the most competitive of the eight first round series. In fact, many experts predicted the #7 seed Mavericks would upset the #2 seed Rockets. It hasn’t really worked out that way as Houston has taken a  commanding 3-0 series lead. The Rockets look to finish off the series Sunday in Dallas. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series.

Houston won the first two games in the series at home 118-108 in game one and 111-99 in game two. The series shifted to Dallas for game three Friday night. The Mavericks were playing without guard Rajon Rondo and forward Chandler Parsons who are both out for the series.

Houston took a 42-36 at the end of the first quarter, but Dallas would outscore them by 13 points in the second quarter to take a 7 point lead into halftime. Houston would rally to lead by 2 going into the fourth. The Rockets opened the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run to lead by 11 points with just over 8 minutes to go. Dallas would cut the lead to one a few times but could never tie or take the lead. Houston’s Corey Brewer made one of two free throws with 7 seconds left to give the Rockets a 130-128 lead. Monta Ellis missed a 20 foot jumper at the buzzer that would have tied the game and the Rockets held on for the win.

James Harden scored a playoff career high 42 points and added 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Josh Smith added 18 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds off the bench. Brewer scored 15 points for the Rockets and added 3 rebounds. Dwight Howard scored 13 points, but had 26 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Trevor Ariza also scored 13 points. Terrance Jones added 12 points and 6 rebounds.

Ellis scored 34 points for Dallas along with 9 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki also scored 34 points and had 8 rebounds along with 4 assists. Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. J.J. Barea had 11 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Devin Harris added 10 points for the Mavericks. There wasn’t much defense for either team as both teams shot over 50% from the field.

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 36-47-2 ATS and the total is 40-44-1. Dallas was a 1 point favorite in game #3 and the total was 216.5. Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets are 51-34 ATS and the total is  42-43 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. He is out with a knee injury 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. He is out with a back injury. Raym0nd Felton is probable with a hamstring injury. Richard Jefferson is questionable with a calf injury.

Houston is 7-0 ATS in first round games, 6-0 against Western Conference teams, 5-0 in Sunday games, against teams with winning records, and against Southwest teams, 4-0 overall, and after a straight up win, 8-2 after allowing 100 points or more, 4-1 after an ATS win, and on one day rest, 7-2 against teams with winning home records, 22-8 after scoring 100 points or more, 7-3 in road games, and 1-5 after scoring 125 points or more. The Rockets have covered the last 4 games in this series. The under is 5-2 ATS in this series recently.

Dallas is 7-2 ATS after allowing 125 points or more, 10-22-2 after failing to cover, 4-9 after allowing 100 points or more, 13-32-2 against western Conference teams, 11-28 against teams with winning records, 7-19 overall, 6-19-1 after scoring more than 100 points, 1-4 after a straight up loss, at home, after scoring more than 125 points and against teams with winning road records, 0-4 in first round games, and 0-5 against Southwest teams. The home team is 10-4 ATS in this series recently.

Dallas played easily their best game of the series Friday. Dallas certainly can win at home to extend the series, and I think they do force a game five with win in another high scoring game.

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