Texas will not be the site of battle between these two Southwest division rival. Rather, the Rockets and the Mavericks will square off in Mickey Mouse’s world. Which team will have a happier ending in Orlando after the game, which starts at 9AM Manila time on August 1, 2020?
HOME TEAM: Dallas Mavericks (40-27, 19-15 at home)
The Mavericks are in a great position to snap a three-year absence in the playoffs, but there is still work to be done at Disney World for them. Dallas, which is the third-highest scoring team in the NBA with 116.4 points per game, are 3-2 in its last five games. The last time they saw action, the Mavericks defeated the Denver Nuggets at home, 113-97.
In terms of advanced stats, the Mavericks are top in the league with a 115.8 offensive rating, which isn’t much of a surprise when considering the fact that they are operating with a sensational sophomore in Luka Doncic and a unicorn in Kristaps Porzingis. The two have played sweet European music together. Doncic is averaging 28.7 points per game, while Porzingis is dropping 19.2 points a night.
When the Mavs took down the Rockets back in November at Toyota Center, 137,123, Doncic ripped apart Houston’s defense and scored 41 points. Porzingis also pitched in 23, while Tim Hardaway went off for 31 points as part of the starting unit.
ROAD TEAM: Houston Rockets(40-24, 18-14on the road)
Maybe the long rest will turn out to be some sort of a break for the Rockets, who were circling down the drain when the season got halted. The Rockets are only 1-4 in their last five games, with that lone victory coming at the expense of the going-nowhere Minnesota Timberwolves, 117-111.
The biggest concern right now for the Rockets is the status of Russell Westbrook, who’s likely not going to play right away at Disney World after the former league MVP tested positive for COVID-19. If Westbrook can’t go, the Rockets will have a bigger load for another former NBA MVP to carry. That’s James Harden, who’s a superstar proven to be capable of single-handedly towing a team to success. On the season, Harden is averaging 34.4 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game.
When Westbrook is on the floor and Harden is on, The Beard is averaging almost 60 points per 100 possessions this season.
Houston’s small-ball style of play looked too problematic for the Mavericks during the Rockets’ 128-121 home win over Dallas last February. The Rockets hit 21 threes in that game to just 14 by Dallas and outscored the Mavericks on the fastbreak, 18-8.
Without Westbrook, the usage will be spread out more evenly among the Rockets and could potentially make them more efficient on offense. The Rockets will win this game, 118-113.