Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks

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Following their strong performance in an eight-point victory over the Mavericks in Dallas the Rockets are headed to Houston for their home opener. The Rockets will once again play the Dallas Mavericks, in the second half of a 'home and home' series between the two Texas teams, where the Rockets will look to sweep the Mavericks two games to none.

The Mavericks will be looking to even up the series and get their first win of the season as Dirk Nowitzki, who was held out of the last game due to an illness, returns to their lineup. To make up for Dirk's missing offense, newly signed Harrison Barnes showed why he was given a max contract, scoring 31 points on 23 shots. Overall the Mavericks struggled to score in the second half and are hoping having Dirk will help boost their late game offense.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets have no reason to change, as the starters all played well outside of Anderson, who will likely benefit from the Mavericks returning to a more traditional lineup with Dirk back. The starting lineup will likely continue to be Harden at point guard, Gordon at shooting guard, Ariza at small forward, Anderson at power forward, and Capela at center.

The Mavericks in the last game started out small, with Wesley Mathews and Harrison Barnes sliding down to small  forward and power forward respectively, and inserting JJ Barea into the starting lineup at shooting guard. With Dirk returning from his ailment the Mavericks will likely push Barea back to a bench role and Mathews and Barnes back to their natural positions so Dirk can return to his place in the starting lineup. The Mavericks are likely to start Deron Williams at point guard, Mathews at shooting guard, Barnes at small forward, Dirk at power forward, and Andrew Bogut at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Them or us? -  It will be interesting to see whether the Rockets are just better than the Mavericks or if the result of the game was more about the absence of Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavericks.

  • KJ came to play - After hitting all five of his shots in limited minutes during the first game Coach Mike D'Antoni admitted that KJ McDaniels deserved more minutes and KJ got just that, jumping from 12 to 22 minutes in the second game. KJ did not disappoint, providing solid defense to go with nine points and two steals. It's worth watching to see if KJ can keep up this production as the season goes on.

  • Tyler Ennis, not.... terrible? - After a horrid preseason and rough first game, Ennis appeared to be much more comfortable running the second team offense for short stretches, turning the ball over only one time while notching 4 assists (including this lob to Clint). If Ennis can continue to be passable as a 12-15 minute point guard for this team it will go a long way towards staying above water until Beverley is back.

Prediction and Tip-Off

My prediction for this game is similar to the last, I believe that while Dirk will boost the Mavericks' offense, he will have the same effect on Houston's, as his slow foot speed will be a problem when trying to defend a Mike D'Antoni offense, leading to another Rockets win over the Mavericks to move to 2-1.

Tip-off is at 7:00 P.M. Central Time on Sunday, October 30th at the Toyota Center in Houston and will be televised on ROOT Sports and the radio broadcast will be on Sports Talk 790-AM.


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