Western Conference First Round Game #5: Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets

2015 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals

#7 Dallas Mavericks at #2 Houston Rockets
Rockets Lead Best of Seven Series 3-1
Game #5 Toyota Center – Houston, Texas
Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Houston -6 1/2
Current Line: Houston -7
Opening Total: 222
Current Total: 221
Opening Money Line: Rockets -265 / Mavericks +220
Current Money Line: Rockets -300 / Mavericks +250

Houston looks to end the series against Dallas Tuesday night in Houston.
Houston looks to end the series against Dallas Tuesday night in Houston.

The Houston Rockets won the first three games of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Dallas Mavericks. Houston was not able to finish off the sweep in game four Sunday in Dallas. Now the two teams return to Houston for game four Tuesday night.

Houston won the first two games at home with ease, 118-108 on game one and 111-99 in game two. The Rockets escaped with a 130-128 win in game three in Dallas to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.

In game four, Houston took a 12 point lead early but Dallas went on a 24-7 run and led by 8 points at halftime. Dallas went on another huge run opening the third with a 20-2 scoring spurt to take an 81-57 lead. Houston would never get closer than 9 points in the fourth quarter. Dallas stayed alive with the 121-109 victory. Houston shot 68% from the field in the first half but only 28% in the second half.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle went with a smaller lineup in game four, starting J.J. Barea at the point and Al-Farouq Aminu at the small forward. The lineup seemed to work and bothered Houston on both ends of the court. All five Mavericks starters scored in double digits. Monta Ellis had 31 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Barea had 17 points, 13 assists and 3 rebounds. Aminu had 16 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Dirk Nowitzki had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Tyson Chandler had 10 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. Amare Stoudemire had 12 points off the bench.

James Harden led the Rockets with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Josh Smith had 23 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Corey Brewer had 22 points and 5 rebounds. Dwight Howard had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Terrance Jones had 13 points and 6 rebounds.

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 37-47-2 ATS and the total is 41-44-1. Dallas was a 3 point underdog in game #4 and the total was 218.5. Houston is coached by Kevin McHale. The Rockets are 51-35 ATS and the total is  43-43 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 probable with a calf injury. Bernard James is questionable with an illness.

Dallas is 4-0 ATS on one day rest, 14-32-2 against Western Conference teams, 7-17 overall, 7-19-1 after scoring 100 points or more, 2-6 against teams with winning records, 5-16 against teams with winning home records, 3-11 in road games, 1-4 in first round games, 2-10 after a straight up win, 1-5 against Southwest teams, and 1-7 after a cover.

Houston is 11-1 after a straight up loss of 10 points or more, 9-1 against teams with winning road records, 7-1 in first round games, 6-1 against Western Conference teams, 5-1 against teams with winning records and against Southwest teams, 4-1 overall and after scoring 100 points or more, 23-6 after failing to cover, 20-6 in Tuesday games, 21-7 after a straight up loss, 20-7 at home, 14-5 on one day rest, and 8-3 after allowing 100 points or more. The home team is 6-2 ATS in this series recently. Houston has covered 4 of the last 5 games against Dallas, and also covered the last 4 at home against the Mavericks.

Dallas has been much better on offense since Rondo is out with a back injury. Before the Rondo trade earlier this season, Dallas was on pace for a historic offensive season, but Rondo’s poor shooting slowed down the offense. The Mavericks have gone back to that form. I think this could be another high scoring game, and seven points seems like a lot to lay with the Rockets. The Mavericks might even win this force a game six Thursday in Dallas.

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