December 4th, 2015 (2:00 PM ET)
In addition, three college football picks have been released a day in advance!
Take Dallas Mavericks at -5 spread against Houston Rockets for 3% of the bankroll.
It is still unclear why the Houston Rockets' front office fired a great coach that took them to the Western Conference finals! As a Hall of Fame player himself, Kevin McHale, understood and emphasized playing fundamentally-sound basketball. His players were rightfully barked at when they did a poor job on the defensive end or did not win the battle on the boards. He's gone and his assistant JB Bickerstaff has been temporarily put in charge. What improvements did Houston directors believe this change would create remains a big mystery! How is McHale's former assistant supposed to suddenly improve this team and if a change in regime was needed, why not an entirely new face and a new direction? Those questions are best answered at the end of the season but thus far, they've created a culture of confusion and missed assignments in the Rockets. Therefore the same team that was a perennial playoff contender under McHale suddenly looks like one that is in transition and may well miss the post-season this year!
The Dallas Mavericks on the other hand, are hardly perfect but one thing Mark Cuban understands is stability. Coach Rick Carlisle was recently given another extension and is among the NBA's longest tenured head coaches! He's been in charge of the Mavs for nearly a decade and has the full respect and attention of his players. This is also a veteran squad that knows the importance of being professional and treating division games seriously. Having been bested by James Harden and company in previous years, they are determined to flip the scrip on their Texas rivals and will look to get another W over their Southwest division opponents. The Mavs already went to Houston and beat the Rockets by double-digits earlier this season and now get a chance to host them and go up 2-0 in the season series! It is sometimes worth backing the other side in such situations given that they are seeking revenge, but this is unlikely to be one of them. That's because this Houston team is currently lacking an identity and has been among the league's worst, defensively! That combo does not bode well in revenge situations as the Rockets are 1-5 ATS (against-the-spread) this season when playing a team they've previously lost to! They will no doubt want to avenge that defeat but we believe they'll fall short once again as this situation favors Dallas in several ways.
Unlike the Mavericks, Houston has another game to think about tomorrow! They host the Sacramento Kings on Saturday and need to keep their players fresh for that contest as well. That's why Dwight Howard will most likely sit out tonight and others may have a minute-restriction or get rested in the 4th quarter if the game is out of reach. Carlisle's Dallas squad on the other hand will solely be focused on the task at hand and has had 2 full days of rest coming into this matchup. Given their aging roster, extra days of rest are usually a good thing for this team where as it can make younger teams a bit rusty. Deron Williams has been rejuvanted in his new team and is playing at a very high level again. His confidence is central to his play and he and his teammates are currently feeling very well about themselves after a solid 11-8 start to the season despite playing the majority of their games on the road! Dallas is a team that was predicted by pundits to struggle this year but the players have played with a chip on their shoulders and are determined to prove them wrong. This is a deep squad that currently has all of its players minus JJ Barea healthy but he won't be missed that much given the fact that Mavs have plenty of quality guard options in Wes Matthews, Felton, D-Will and Devin Harris! The Rockets on the other hand will have to do without the towering presence of Dwight Howard and are also missing several others through injuries.
The Mavericks are 5-1 ATS this season and 53-31 over the last three after allowing 105 or more points! This is a team with a history of shoring up defensively after a high-scoring game therefore while the Rockets are lacking organization and intensity on that end of the court. This may be a close game for the most part but sooner or later, the Mavs will pull away thanks to superior communication and chemistry and barring a late backdoor cover, Houston will find it tough to keep within 5 points. Look for Nowitzki and company to improve to 6-2 in Big D against a an overvalued Houston team that has covered only 5 spreads in 19 games this season!
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