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Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

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The Rockets host the Mavericks in a huge game for both teams.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are not a team to be trifled with.

Houston learned that earlier this year when Dallas marched into Toyota Center with a middle school basketball team and absolutely annihilated the Rockets.

Houston returned the favor (not as convincingly) in Dallas later, but the damage was done. Houston will look differently tonight with Dwight Howard out, but with Josh Smith back in the lineup. It will be interesting to see if Smith regains the starting spot he had for the playoffs or if JBB goes back to the lineup that has Trevor Ariza at the 4.

For the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki, Zaza Pachulia, and Jeremy Evans are questionable with minor injuries.

This is a HUGE game for the Rockets not just in terms of the standings but in terms of turning it around. You can generate temporary momentum by trading for someone (in this case Smoove), but you need to win to make that momentum last longer. Unfortunately Smoove's dance partner in the alley-oop dance is still out, but once he comes back that could be fun.

Remember, it's an early tip-off today, which has never been a good thing for Rockets teams.

Tip-off is at 2:30pm CST.

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