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Rockets vs. Mavericks game preview: Southwest Division Rivals Meet in Houston

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

First, the bad news: James Harden is questionable to play tonight. He’s likely a game-time decision. Second, Luka Doncic missed Dallas’s game last night against the Chicago Bulls with a quad bruise and is also questionable to play tonight. Kristaps Porzingis is still unavailable to Dallas after getting offseason knee surgery. The most recent update was that he’s practicing with the team, but that there is no timetable for his return yet.

It’s entirely possible that the matchup that fans and the league wanted to see does not come to pass. As this game marks the Southwest Division opener for both teams, it’s imperative for both teams to try to steal this one.

The Rockets have already won a game without their superstar guard. John Wall and Christian Wood were phenomenal in Houston’s second win over the Sacramento Kings. Stephen Silas will once again ask his his starters to step up and attack a Mavs defense that has been hot and cold. In their wins, Dallas’s defense has been particularly Scrooge-like, giving up 73 and 83 points. In their losses? 106, 118, and 138 points. The Mavs can score with anyone, especially with Doncic. But it’s on defense that the Mavericks will shape their contender status. Porzingis is a big part of that, and his return will help.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest and NBA TV