Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks

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After a disappointing loss to open the season in Los Angeles the Rockets head back to Texas to play the Dallas Mavericks in their second game. Although losing to the Lakers stings, let's not overreact, it's only one game. There is still plenty of time for the Rockets to become the team that will overwhelm teams with endless pick and rolls combined with outside shooting that we saw for one half against the Lakers.

The Mavericks also opened up their season with a close loss, albeit to a better team in the Pacers. They fought into an overtime game behind a bit of a come back ending in a game tying three by newly acquired Harrison Barnes, who struggled outside of that shot. Once they got to overtime their age showed, as they struggled getting out onto shooters like Paul George and Myles Turner who put the game away with a pair of threes. Dirk Nowitzki looked like his offensive game still refuses to age, putting up 22 points to go with eight rebounds and four of nine shooting from three.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets are likely to have the same starting lineup as last week, the one spot that could change is center, as Nene played over Capela in closing time last game, despite his obvious struggles. If there are no changes the Rockets will start James Harden at point guard, Eric Gordon at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center.

The Mavericks, always hungry to sign a big free agent, went out and gave the aggressively mediocre Harrison Barnes a max contract and traded for Andrew Bogut, both of whom will start on Friday at Small Forward and Center respectively. Outside of the two former Warriors the Mavericks starting lineup is identical to last year, with veterans Deron Williams at point guard and Wesley Mathews at shooting guard to go with Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. It is also worth noting that J.J. Barea played 40 minutes against the Pacers despite not starting.

Three Things to Watch

  • Wheres the shooting? - In the off-season the Rockets clearly valued getting more shooting on the floor, giving shooters Gordon and Anderson $133 million dollars to come to Houston. Despite the added shooting the Rockets shot just 24.1% from three on 29 attempts, that must improve if they want to win games.

  • Nene or Capela - In the closing minutes of the game coach Mike D'Antoni opted to play Nene over Capela, despite Capela playing significantly  better. If this game is close it will be interesting to see who D'Antoni trusts to finish the game.

  • The new look Mavericks - As a team the Rockets will play four times this year, and may be fighting for a playoff spot with, it is worth noting how the two match up and just how good the Mavericks are this season.

Prediction and Tip-Off

Despite the gut wrenching loss the other night I am still fairly optimistic about the Rockets. I think the Mavericks will struggle to defend pick and rolls and chase shooters with their aging frontcourt, ending in a Rockets victory, otherwise there may be tears.

Tip-off is at 7:30 Central Time on Friday, October 27th in Dallas and will be televised on ROOT Sports and the radio broadcast will be on 790-AM.


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