Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks (-3, 191) - April 15 2009
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Who Plays Who Next?
The final night of the NBA regular season brings a conclusion to the playoff races. The Rockets can finish anywhere from the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference to the No. 5 seed.
Dallas can finish ranked sixth, seventh, or eighth in the West. The Western Conference playoff matchups will not be finalized until we know the results from this game.
Dallas is looking to avoid the dreaded No. 8 seed and avoid a first round matchup with the No. 1 seed Lakers. Houston is looking to host the first two games, and potentially an all-important Game Seven, as long as they finish with the fourth seed or higher.
This game will also determine the Southwest Division title, as Houston and San Antonio enter the final game of the regular season tied for first place in the divisional race. Both the Rockets and Spurs have the same overall record (53-28), the same divisional record (9-6) and the same conference record (35-16) heading into the last game.
No Sitting Starters Here:
On the final day of the regular season, many teams rest starters. Playoff squads want to get their key players a bit of extra rest. Lottery bound squads want to give their younger players some extra court time to encourage their development.
This is one of the few games on the schedule that won’t have either team resting key players during crunch time—not with playoff seeding issues for both squads on the line.
Josh Howard has been in and out of the lineup for the Mavs, suffering from a variety of ailments. His latest injury, a sprained right ankle, kept him out of the lineup when the Mavs snuck past Minnesota 96-94 on Monday.
The Mavs are 10-17 ATS without Howard (17.7 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game) in the lineup this year; 29-25 ATS with him in the lineup.
While Josh Howard has a bigger public reputation from his off court antics than he does from his on court play, the numbers clearly show that Dallas is affected against the spread when Howard is not healthy enough to suit up. Howard’s status been upgraded to probable for Wednesday Night’s game.
There hasn’t been much of a home court edge in this series, and that’s putting it mildly. The road team has won six of the last eight meetings between these two teams in straight up fashion, as well as ATS. The underdog has cashed five times in the last six meetings.
In three previous meetings this year, Houston has won and covered twice. But the Rockets and Mavericks have only played once since Thanksgiving, a 93-86 Houston win and cover just after the All Star break. Long term, it’s been Dallas controlling the series; 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings.
Each of the last two meetings between these two squads has been a low scoring contest, combining to stay Under the total by an average of 13 points per game. The Rockets are 8-3 to the Under in their last eleven road games and 43-21-1 to the Under in their last 65 games against Southwest Division opponents.