The 11-13 Houston Rockets come into town to take on the 12-11 Dallas Mavericks. Here’s what to look for when they face off.
The Dallas Mavericks are the best basketball team in the state of Texas. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a hot start. Right now the Spurs and the Rockets are looking up at the team that plays in the AAC and there’s no reason to think that will change anytime soon.
Houston visits Dallas tonight, though, looking to change that. The two teams played just ten days ago, with the Mavericks posting a 128-108 win in Houston. Chris Paul didn’t play, but it’s hard to think he’d make up a 20-point difference. Paul will suit up this time, but if he plays like he did against the Timberwolves on Monday, posting a meager five points and seven assists, it’s likely he won’t be the reason the Mavericks lose.
As far as James Harden, he can expect to see a heavy dose of Harrison Barnes, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Wes Matthews. The Rockets like to run defenses through screens until Harden finds a mismatch; they’ll have a difficult time doing that against a long, athletic Mavs team. Dallas held Harden to 25 points (below his season average) that last meeting, but he did have 17 assists.
Expect the Dallas bench to do some heavy lifting, as usual. The Rockets just don’t have the depth to match up with the Mavericks when the second unit comes in. Devin Harris and J.J. Barea combined for 33 points and 16 assists in that November contest in Houston. If they produce similar numbers, Houston will have a hard time winning.
The Mavericks will want to take care of the basketball. They won the turnover battle against the Rockets in their last matchup. Avoiding turnovers, especially live ball turnovers, helps get the defense set and makes Harden’s night a little bit more difficult.
The game has an early tip-off at 5:00 p.m central time. As always, follow along here at The Smoking Cuban for a recap of the game and all the latest Dallas Mavericks news and updates.