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Rockets vs. Mavericks game preview: I-45 rivals battle once again

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

After escaping Detroit with a win in nail-biting fashion, the Houston Rockets fly down to Dallas to take on the Mavericks in the team’s first back-to-back of the season.

By process of their chief divisional rivals trading James Harden, the Dallas Mavericks are now the kings of the Southwest Division. Houston and San Antonio are clearly retooling. Memphis and New Orleans have young talent that is growing, but Dallas should dominate the division for the next couple of years. After last year’s playoff experience, most expect the Mavs to be a second round team at worst.

The Mavericks are 8-7 early in the season and have struggled with a missing some of their players due to COVID protocols. That makes it hard to dive too deep into recent results. However, Dallas is on a 2-game winning streak over the Pacers and Spurs, so they’re trending in the right direction.

A lot of people point to Luka Doncic as a future MVP and Hall of Famer. Rockets fans know the truth though. The real MVP for Dallas is Tim Hardaway Jr., who plays like a man possessed whenever he suits up against Houston. He’s in a contract year and I’m convinced that when his agent asks for a max contract this offseason, he’s just going to send tape of his highlights against Houston over the past few years. If THJ played on a team that just got to play the Rockets every game, he’d be considered way better than Michael Jordan. Since he’s playing tonight, the Mavs should win by 50.

Tip-off is at 8pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest