The NBA season continues this Friday, the 31st of January with a tasty seven game slate. An interesting clash between the Mavericks and Rockets headlines the early fixtures before we head West as the Lakers host the Trail Blazers from 10.30pm (ET).
As usual, we have a full preview and betting picks for some of the key match-ups of the night’s seven game slate below.
NBA Betting Picks Friday 31st January
Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets
7.30pm (ET), Toyota Center
The Rockets last two games have been strange to say the least. Coming up against the Jazz away from home on Monday night without star guards James Harden and Russel Westbrook, they were able to capture a brilliant nine-point win on the back of a massive 50 point game from Eric Gordon. Just two nights later, with Harden and Westbrook back in the line-up, the Rockets lost on the road to the Portland Trail Blazers as Damian Lillard had 36 points.
The Rockets have been inconsistent throughout the season so far and currently sit in 6th place in the Western Conference with a 29-18 record. They have won just four of their last 10 games and will be looking to limp through to the All-Star break where they will no doubt re-group to make another run at a high playoffs seed.
The Mavericks sit one spot above the Rockets in the West with a 29-18 record, but were dealt a blow in their last game as star point guard Luka Doncic went down with another ankle injury that has been described as similar to the one that kept him out for four games earlier in the season. The Mavericks ended up losing that game to Phoenix, and will go into Friday night’s clash as underdogs without their starting point guard, who is averaging 28.8 points, 8.7 assists and 9.5 rebounds this season.
If the Mavericks are to stay competitive in this match, the prodcution that is missed through the absence of Doncic will need to be found somewhere, and Kristaps Porzingus is the most likely source of the points at least. Porzingus averages 30.3 minutes and 16.8 points on 14.9 field goal attempts throughout the regular season so far. Compare those numbers to the numbers he racked up when Luka Doncic missed four games back in December. In that stretch, Porzingus’ numbers shot up to 35.7 minutes and 22.5 points on a whopping 18 field goal attempts.
Combine those numbers with the fact that the Mavericks third leading scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr, is currently listed as a game time decision for Friday night’s matchup with a back injury, and there is already more reason for a big game from the 7-foot Latvian. Hardaway averages 14.1 points on 11.5 field goal attempts this season, and if he is out, those shots will need to go somewhere.
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers
After postponing Tuesday night’s game against the Clippers, the Lakers will play their first game since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant when they face the Blazers on Friday night. The Lakers currently sit in 1st place in the Western Conference with a 36-10 record and have won seven of their last 10 games. They are coming off a loss to the 76ers in their last game, but that was almost a full week ago due to the postponed game.
The Blazers have had an up and down season but their offence finally seems to be finding their feet. They have won three of their last four games and star point guard Damian Lillard has averaged a ridiculous 48.5 points per game over that stretch. They still lack any sort of presence inside the paint, which will no doubt be a real issue as they come up against arguably the best big man in the NBA on Friday night in Anthony Davis.
Regardless of how this one plays out, we think that Damian Lillard won’t have the impact in this game as he has over the last four. His performance in those four games has pushed his point line all the way out to __, which we think is a little too high. CJ McCollum seems to be finding his groove since returning from injury and should continue to take some of the shots off his backcourt teammate.
There is also the issue of Avery Bradley, who remains as one of the leagues top perimeter defenders. Bradley did a number on Kyrie Irving last week, keeping the star point guard to just 20 pints on 7/17 shooting and should be a handful for Lillard on Friday night.
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