Dallas Mavericks: Matching Up with the Houston Rockets
By Kohl Rast
Aside from being the Dallas Mavericks interstate rival, the Houston Rockets are also one of the better teams in the West year to year. How will the Mavs match up with them this season?
Now that NBA rosters are being finalized and the Dallas Mavericks are starting to get a view of what to expect from their Western Conference foes, we wanted to take a look at the matchup between the Mavs and the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets have been a hot and cold team over the last few years. Houston has made the playoffs for the last 5 years consecutive, starting with the 8th seed in the 2012-13 playoffs. Since then, they jumped all the way up to the 2-seed in 2014-15 before falling apart last year and barely making the playoffs.
This does not mean the Rockets are not dangerous. Houston is still led by one of the most dangerous scorers in the league, James Harden. Harden is nearly unstoppable, even from one of the best defensive players at his position, Wesley Matthews.
The Mavs know as well as anyone that it is hard for a team to survive with only one star. Although Dirk Nowitzki has been the only noteworthy star for Dallas in the last two decades, he has also been backed up by an excellent supporting cast many times.
After saying all that, here is how I see the Mavs and Rockets matching up this season.
The Dallas Mavericks starters have been set in stone for some time now, with no new changes. Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut will be the nightly starting five.
Houston, on the other hand, has a few more question marks. Outside of James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Clint Capela, the team will be looking at different lineups. At the power forward position, Houston will be choosing between young stud Montrezl Harrell and veteran scoring machine, Ryan Anderson. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.
As for point guard, the day one starter was supposed to be Patrick Beverley, but injuries have changed a few things. Expect to see Pablo Prigioni at point with Harden taking over at times.
For the starter matchup, it is hard to see Dallas not having the advantage in at least three of the positions. Point guard, power forward and center all belong to Dallas. Shooting guard is definitely owned by Houston and small forward is a toss up on any given night.
The Mavs bench is an interesting topic this year with a few veterans but mostly young, new faces. J.J. Barea and Devin Harris have been in the league for a long time. They will be ready to lead the youngsters Justin Anderson, Seth Curry, Salah Mejri, Quincy Acy, Dwight Powell and the rest of the team.
The Rockets, on the other hand, have a unique bench. Returning players like Corey Brewer, Pablo Prigioni (when Beverley returns), and Sam Dekker all expect to play a role. The team also added Nene Hilario, Eric Gordon, and a few rookies to the team.
Brewer may be the best bench player from either team, but as an overall unit, I believe Dallas has the edge in bench play this year.
Dallas has been led by Coach Carlisle since the 2008 NBA season and has been through some of the best Mavericks seasons, including the lone championship run. Carlisle is considered one of the best coaches in the league currently, sitting behind only Gregg Popovich on most lists.
The Rockets recently hired NBA journeyman, Mike D’Antoni to be their head coach. D’Antoni is most recently coming off a stint as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, which ended in disappointment for both parties.
Although D’Antoni is known for coaching teams that are mostly subpar on the defensive end, Carlisle gets the clear nod in this category. Carlisle is ready to maximize the potential of this young team in Dallas. D’Antoni will need to learn more about his team.
Next: Dallas Mavericks: Brussino Will Be a Star
The Dallas Mavericks seem to have the clear edge in the matchup against the Houston Rockets. Lucky for everyone, we won’t have to wait long to see the results. Dallas and Houston will be playing each other this coming Friday and Sunday the 28th and 30th.