Dallas Mavericks: Matthews Must Come Up Big Against Rockets


The Dallas Mavericks won’t have to contend with Dwight Howard when they take on the Houston Rockets Saturday night, but still must deal with slowing down James Harden, the league’s second highest scorer, to get the win. To do that Dallas will again lean on Wesley Matthews, who has spent a lot of time harassing Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant this week already.

Matthews helped hold Paul to 2-11 shooting in Dallas’ big win against the Clippers on Veteran’s Day, picking up the all-world point guard from the opening tip and doing a superb job of limiting his impact.

There has been speculation that Matthews, still “easing” his way back from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, would sit against Houston in the second night of a back-to-back. But he wants to play, so bet on that happening.

He’ll have his hands full with Harden, who has averaged 33.6 points and 6.0 assists in his last five games. Staying out of foul trouble will be key for Matthews in this matchup, both to keep himself on the floor and Harden off of the free throw line where he collects over a third of his points.

Matthews has had success against Harden in the past, helping to limit him to 37.6% shooting in Portland’s 4-2 series win in the first round of the 2013-14 playoffs, and he’ll need to rekindle some of the defensive magic against one of the most lethal scorers in the league Saturday night.

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He’ll also need to make Harden and the rest of the Rockets who check him work on the other end. The Mavericks are a different, better, team when Matthews has it going offensively, but he’s been up and down in that regard so far.

That’s to be expected as he continues to shake off the rust and get back in to the flow of things, but the Mavericks will need more of the Matthews they got against the Clippers – 25 points on 9-13 shooting – than the one they got against the Lakers – 8 points on 2-11 – to keep pace with the Rockets.

The game tips off at 7 pm CT.

Next: Dallas Mavericks: 3 Takeaways from Win Against Lakers

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