Date & Time: Friday, 31st July, 9:00 PM ET (Saturday 6:30 AM IST)
Venue: The Arena (WWOS), Orlando, FL
The final regular season tie between Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks is of utmost importance considering that the two Texas-based franchises are just 1.5 games apart in the West. More importantly, the mini-series is tied at 1-1, so the winner will have a definitive advantage at the end of the seeding games.
Houston Rockets Preview
Despite all the height jokes, the Houston Rockets have done a commendable job with their small-ball lineup. Robert Covington may only be 6'7, but his work rate has been good enough to see off most bigs from opposition teams ever since he was brought in via a trade.
James Harden has pretty much remained imperious on offense. Russell Westbrook has also slowly caught up after his late arrival to the NBA bubble. However, Eric Gordon has been sidelined with an ankle injury and will certainly be missed against the Dallas Mavericks.
Key Player - James Harden
James Harden had a 35-point outing against the Boston Celtics in the Houston Rockets' last NBA scrimmage game. Despite the lengthy lockdown, he's looked sharp in Orlando and his ability to get to the free-throw line will be crucial against a not so great Dallas defense. Harden's had 30-point outings in both of Houston's games against the Dallas Mavericks and he'll be looking for a threepeat.
Rockets Predicted Lineup
Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Ben McLemore, Robert Covington, P.J. Tucker
Dallas Mavericks Preview
The Dallas Mavericks were expected to make a playoff push this season after showing promise the last time around. They're still sitting at the seventh seed in the West. However, their 40-27 record is just four games shy of the third-seeded Denver Nuggets.
A win against the Houston Rockets would allow Dallas Mavericks the momentum to move up in the standings and potentially avoid one of the LA franchises in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Luckily enough, they have had no fresh injuries after entering the NBA bubble with the likes of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in full gear.
Key Player - Luka Doncic
In just his sophomore year, Luka Doncic is averaging 28.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 9.3 rebounds a game. The Slovenian scored 41 points and led the Dallas Mavericks to a resounding win over the Houston Rockets the first time these two franchises met this season. He was out with injury the second time around and Houston Rockets ran victorious. He'll certainly be a problem for Mike D'Antoni's men on Friday.
Mavericks Predicted Lineup
Luka Doncic, Seth Curry, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis
Rockets vs Mavericks Match Prediction
In this matchup between two of the best offenses in the league, surprisingly enough, whoever shows better work rate on defense will edge the tie. There's little to separate the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks right now but the latter has shown more energy in the NBA scrimmages. Considering that the Mavs beat Houston when they had Luka Doncic available, I expect them to eke out a hard-fought victory again.
Where to watch Rockets vs Mavericks?
Local broadcast of the game will be available on AT&T Sportsnet Southwest and FOX Sports Southwest. The game will be available nationwide in the US on ESPN. Fans in India can catch the fixture on Sony Six. You can also live stream the same via NBA League Pass.
Published 31 Jul 2020, 01:52 IST