The second night of the NBA's return will feature six games, with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks serving as the night cap from the day's action. Both teams are entering the bubble with something to prove: Houston is trying to cement itself as a legitimate championship contender, while Dallas is hoping to make a statement with its young core.
Only 1 1/2 games separates the Mavericks and Rockets in the West standings, so both teams will likely be going all out to come away with an important win. Here's everything you need to know about Friday's Rockets-Mavericks game.
How to watch
- Date: Friday, July 31 | 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Disney Wide World of Sports -- Orlando, Florida
- TV: ESPN
- Odds: Mavericks -2 | O/U: 231
Rockets: Houston will be without Eric Gordon, who sprained his left ankle in the team's final scrimmage and is expected to miss approximately two weeks. While Gordon hasn't been fully healthy all season, and shooting just 31.9 percent from 3-point range, his floor spacing and shot creation are essential to Houston's small-ball game plan. Coming into the restart, Houston has been penned as the "ultimate wild card," as its small-ball attack and 3-point assault can potentially cause problems for teams in the playoffs. It'll be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook can recapture the chemistry he found with his teammates right before the hiatus, because if he does and James Harden is playing at his typical elite level, then Houston could cause some upsets in the postseason.
Mavericks: Two observations stuck out from Dallas' scrimmages: Luka Doncic looks like he hasn't skipped a beat in his historic sophomore season, and Seth Curry is going to be a problem from 3-point range when the playoffs start. Curry, as well as several other sharpshooters in the league, have said that the gym they're playing in for the restart is beneficial for them as the sight lines and dark backgrounds provide an ideal setup for shooters. If Curry shoots like he did in Dallas' first scrimmage against the Lakers -- 23 points including 6 of 6 from deep -- then the Mavericks could have a new weapon in their arsenal in addition to Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
This will likely be a high-scoring game as both teams have several shooters who can fill it up from outside. Houston will need solid contributions from Robert Covington and Austin Rivers to make up for Gordon's absence. However, the Rockets are going to have a difficult time trying to contain Porzingis. The Mavericks will also have a little extra motivation in this game as they will try using these eight seeding games to move up the standings to avoid a first-round matchup with one of the two Los Angeles teams. Dallas comes out on top in this close matchup, and Porzingis will be the difference maker. Pick: Mavs -2