Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

The Rockets look to bounce back after dropping a game against the Spurs.

December 31, 2009.

That's the last time the Rockets beat the Mavericks. It was my 21st birthday.

I turn 24 in a few weeks. So yes, it's been about three years.

I have this friend, Jon Arnold. Great guy, love him to death. If you enjoy soccer, domestic or abroad, you should follow him on twitter. Heck, you should follow him because he's awesome. I'm not pimping Jon here. I've got a point. Hang on.

He's a Dallas guy, so the Mavs are his team. Whenever they beat us, I get a light ribbing from him. And after the final matchup when the Mavs have officially swept the Rockets, he sends a "Better luck next year" tweet. I know he's just having fun, but no one wants to get that stuff. He's perfectly within his rights to send it. I'm a huge Rockets fan. Fandom isn't really comparable across sports, but the truth is that I'm a bigger fan of the Rockets than almost everyone out here is a fan of the Cowboys. If you've ever been in Texas, specifically west Texas, you realize what kind of statement that is. I wear my Rockets heart on my sleeve, so I'm asking to get some bragging tweets from people who aren't Rockets fans.

So tonight, I need the good guys to win one for me. I need to send a tweet back at my friend. For purely selfish reasons, I need a Rockets win tonight.

Oh, and Jason Terry isn't a Maverick anymore.

Tip off is at 7pm CST.

Matchups:

Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Derek Fisher/Darren Collison

If Lin can superglue his ankles back together after Tony Parker repeatedly broke them (and everyone else's), he should force the Mavs to go to Darren Collison early in this one. Fisher shouldn't be able to stay in front of Lin.

Collison does get more minutes than Fisher. In their last game, he attempted 12 free throws. The rest of the team attempted the same number.

Advantage: Rockets

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. O.J. Mayo

Mayo is getting to shoot a lot more with Dirk Nowitzki injured. His stats are all up from his time in Memphis, but he has one of those telling win/loss differential stats.

In wins, he's averaging 24 points on 54% shooting. Wow.

In losses, he's averaging 16 points on 41% shooting. Not wow.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Vince Carter

Dahntay Jones starts, but Carter and Marion play a lot at the three.

Parsons is going to have to step it up. He's in a bit of a slump for the Rockets. I know you can point to about five guys where that's true, but the Rockets do seem to have their fortune tied to "The Emo One."

Advantage: Mavericks

Power Forward: Patrick Patterson vs. Shawn Marion/Elton Brand

Marion starts and Brand starts as the five. But then Kaman comes in and they can go big with all three of these guys or Marion can become the four and they can go smallish.

I think the Mavs can create havoc with their versatility. Against the Spurs, the Rockets couldn't handle it. Frankly, they couldn't handle glue if you stuck it to their hands.

Advantage: Mavericks

Center: Omer Asik vs. Chris Kaman

Asik played 24 minutes, went 0-6, finished with 0 points, had five turnovers, only grabbed 5 boards, and was a team-worst -23.

He has to be better. I love Asik. I think that's been clear all year. I had admittedly high expectations for him, and he's mostly exceeded them. I know he had/has the flu, so he gets a break here. But in big games, and especially big ones on the road, he's got to be better.

Advantage: Rockets

Bench

Rockets: Toney Douglas, Carlos Delfino, Marcus Morris, Greg Smith

Mavs: Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright

Advantage: Mavs

Prediction: Rockets win a back-to-back for once, give AK an early birthday gift. 101-96.

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