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Mavericks Back Into Southwest Division Race as Odds Shorten to +350; Rockets Now -350 After Being -1000 Last Week

Sam Cox

by Sam Cox in NBA Basketball

Nov 26, 2019 · 1:25 PM PST

Doncic backing down Young
The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets clash in one of the highest total games on Sunday's NBA slate. Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire.
  • The Dallas Mavericks extended winning streak to five with victory over Houston Rockets on Sunday
  • Houston slipped to tied for fifth in the Western Conference with the loss loss
  • Mavericks odds have shortened drastically to win division

The Dallas Mavericks’ 137-123 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday resulted in a major change in the Southwest Divisional odds. Dallas were +1200 to win the division just last week but have rapidly shortened in to +350. The Rockets’ price has shifted from -1000 to -400.

Luka Doncic has not just led Dallas to an 11-5 record, the 20-year-old has inserted himself into the MVP conversation alongside the Rockets’ James Harden, Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers’ LeBron James.

The Mavericks have quickly become serious challengers to Houston for the divisional title – only three teams in the West have a better record than Dallas.

2019-20 NBA Southwest Division Odds

Team Odds
Houston Rockets -400
Dallas Mavericks +350
San Antonio Spurs +1600
New Orleans Pelicans +4000
Memphis Grizzlies +250000

Odds taken Nov. 26th

Doncic Is Unbelievable

What Doncic is doing is, quite simply, extraordinary. His rookie year was special, but he’s stepped up to another level in 2019-20. Doncic is averaging 30.6 points, 9.8 assists and 10.1 rebounds per game. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday – Dallas went 4-0 in the week and Doncic averaged 37 points, 8.5 boards and 11.8 dimes.

The numbers, though, are only part of the story. Doncic is a leader. He went toe-to-toe with LeBron James in Dallas’ overtime loss to the Lakers earlier this month, and he took charge on Sunday in a high profile duel with Harden. The Mavericks racked up 45 first quarter points with Doncic scoring 11 and registering four assists.

The triple-double records are well-publicized. The pace of the game gives modern players an advantage in racking up stats, but the company Doncic is keeping shouldn’t be downplayed. What we are witnessing is all-time great stuff, and he doesn’t turn 21 until the end of February.

Dallas’ hot start, and their subsequent shortened odds, are all about Doncic. If he can maintain this standard, anything is possible and the division title is well within their reach.

Rockets to Rebound

Sunday’s defeat wasn’t Houston’s first painful loss of the season. It made it three losses in a row for Mike D’Antoni’s team, however, bringing an abrupt end to an eight-game winning streak. Losses on the road to the Nuggets and Clippers are hardly anything to panic about, but the defense against Dallas was a worrying reminder of their early season performances.

After leaking points at the start of the campaign, Houston have tightened up on the defensive end, ranking eighth in the NBA in defensive rating over their last ten games. The first quarter against the Mavericks saw the old Houston return. If they are to live up to their favorites tag in the Southwest Division, Houston cannot afford to slump into a bottom-ten defense, even with Harden scoring nearly 40 points per game.

To be fair to the Rockets, they aren’t the first team to be blown away by Dallas’ Luka-led offense this season and the game came at the end of a particularly arduous week. Houston’s December schedule is favorable – solid defense or not, they are going to be favorites in at least nine of their next 10 games.

Similar Profiles

The two teams are similar. Each have an MVP contender, each have a secondary superstar still settling into new surroundings. On the season, Dallas has the top ranked offense in the league, Houston is third. Dallas’ defense is 20th, Houston’s is 18th. These are two offensive powerhouses with two players racking up historic numbers.

The Mavericks have a way to go before they can be considered Southwest Division favorites. Doncic dropped off drastically in the second half of last season, and that will be a concern for any Mavericks backers. Uncertainty remains around Kristaps Porzingis’ game too – the Latvian has an effective field goal percentage of 48.6% this season and is yet to show more than flashes of his All-Star form.

Houston have excelled in the regular season, averaging just under 58 wins per season over the last three campaigns. They have the track record, but with Doncic playing like this, and Porzingis likely to improve, the Mavericks are the better value right now.

Pick: Dallas Mavericks (+350)

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