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Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

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The Rockets look to stop embarrassing themselves when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Losing sucks.

The Rockets have had a cupcake schedule to open the year. At least, it's a cupcake schedule for a true title contender. But Houston has taken every chance to prove that they do not belong in any conversation about a title. In fact, they have done little to assure us that they are a playoff team at all.

It's still early, but sometimes holes are too big to dig out of. Last season, the Warriors built up a lead that was too big for anyone to try to catch up with. Had it not been for an injury-plagued December, the Spurs could have contended for the top seed. That was less than a month of poor play that cost San Antonio. The Rockets are soon to creep up on that amount of time and are below .500 once again after digging their way out.

The Rockets and Mavericks are trending in opposite directions, and certainly are not going in the directions than anyone predicted. Houston was supposed to be retooled and ready to contend. The Mavericks were jilted by DeAndre Jordan and were dealing with a lost season while waiting for Chandler Parsons (out tonight) and Wesley Matthews to get healthy. The Mavs were going to wait until this offseason to bring in a big name or two and go for it next year.

Instead, the Mavs have looked much better than anyone expected. Next year is still more likely to be a big year for them than this one, but Matthews has looked good early on and Deron Williams has fit in nicely. Additionally, Dirk is shooting the lights out of the rock and will be happy to see Rocket red once again, especially with no Josh Smith to guard.

Terrence Jones has to take advantage of Dirk guarding him. Dwight Howard won't be playing so rebounding will be rough. It will take a gang-rebounding approach for Houston to have a shot. Three Mavs are averaging 7 or more rebounds per game. Only Dwight fits that description for the Rockets.

Also, check out the poll for tonight's game.

Tip-off is at 7pm CST.

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