James Harden is questionable for Monday’s meeting with the Dallas Mavericks due to a sprained ankle. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- It will be a Southwest Division showdown on Monday night between the Mavs and Rockets
- Dallas is off to a rough start with a 2-3 record, while Houston is 2-2
- Get the odds, preview, and best bet below for this contest
Despite opening as division favorites, the Dallas Mavericks are struggling early in the 2020-21 campaign. But, the Mavs will have the chance to get back to .500 when they visit the Houston Rockets on Monday, January 4th, tip-off 8 PM EST.
This will be the second game of a back-to-back for Dallas, who lost to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night by 10 points. As for the Rockets, they will come into this game well-rested, having last played on Saturday in a win over the Sacramento Kings.
Last season, James Harden and Houston took two out of three from Rick Carlisle’s team.
Dallas Mavericks vs Houston Rockets Odds
|Dallas Mavericks||-1.5 (-110)||-120||N/A|
|Houston Rockets||+1.5 (-110)||+102||N/A|
Odds taken Jan 4th at FanDuel
Dallas Looking to Find a Groove
It’s certainly been an underwhelming season to this point for the Mavericks. They have just two wins to show for while losing to the Bulls, Hornets, and Lakers.
In fairness though, Luka Doncic was out with a quad contusion in their loss to Chicago on Sunday night and is currently listed as day-to-day. Carlisle hasn’t ruled the Slovenian out for Monday’s showdown with the Rockets, but it’s not yet determined if he’ll be ready to go.
Guard Jalen Brunson looked brilliant in Doncic’s place on Sunday, dropping 31 points. Dallas had a tough job containing the Bulls’ backcourt though, with Zach LaVine and Coby White combining for 62 points. The Mavs also struggled from the line, which ultimately hurt them in the end. They also shot just 26 percent from downtown, which certainly didn’t help their case either.
On a more positive note though, the Mavericks’ two victories did come against the Clippers and Heat. Carlisle’s squad destroyed Kawhi Leonard and co. by 51, while Doncic’s 27 points and 15 boards led Dallas to a 10-point win over Miami on Friday.
This team has shown promise, but it’s the consistency that’s lacked. Despite having some big bodies in the paint with Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell, the Mavs haven’t been physical enough on the glass, ranking 27th in the league in rebounds.
If there’s any time to make a statement though, it would be against their division rivals.
No Harden, No Problem
James Harden missed H-Town’s victory over the Kings on Saturday due to a sprained ankle and is questionable for Monday’s contest. However, Stephen Silas’ team didn’t miss a beat. John Wall and Eric Gordon dominated in the backcourt, combining for 49 points. Wall looked like his old self, making quick cuts to the hoop and showing that same intensity we once saw from the former Washington Wizards star before his knee and Achilles injuries.
3 players with 20+ points in the win!
🚀 @JohnWall 28pts
🚀 @TheofficialEG10 21pts
🚀 @Chriswood_5 20pts pic.twitter.com/DyZDGuIO7L
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 3, 2021
Christian Wood is a player who continues to impress for the Rockets. After moving around between numerous organizations at the beginning of his NBA career, the former Detroit Piston has looked worth every penny of his three-year, $41 million contract.
The big man is averaging 23.8 points and 10.8 boards through his first four games, substantially more than his season averages in 2019-20. Not only is Wood a physical presence around the rim, but he can also shoot it efficiently, sinking 55 percent of his attempts from the field. The 25-year old is definitely shaping up to be an early candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year.
With Harden probably out, expect Gordon, Wall, and Wood to run the show again on Monday. Houston will be looking for their third straight win at home after two consecutive victories over Sacramento. They’ve also won 11 of their last 15 games at the Toyota Center against the Mavs.
Dallas is a slim 1.5-point favorite here. However, the Rockets have been utterly dominant against them in recent memory, winning the last four of five meetings. Already on a two-game win streak as well, I like Houston here, even with Harden out. Wall is coming off his first big performance post-injury and we’ll be hungry for more, while Wood will be looking to continue his torrid start to the season.
With Doncic, the Mavs will have more of a chance. Nevertheless, it’s still safe to bet against the spread on the Rockets.
Pick: Houston Rockets +1.5(-110)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.