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Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

NBA: Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I remember when James Harden was on his run of 30-point games and the Houston Rockets went to Madison Square Garden. Harden’s streak was at 18, and the Knicks were 10-35. And yet, the MSG crowd was in a frenzy all night. The game itself was close, but even Knicks fans wanted to see what crazy stat line Harden would put up that night. He finished with a career-high 61 points and capped it off with a breakaway dunk.

I say all of this to set up the fact that a lot of people will be tuning in tonight, but not to see the Rockets. They’ll instead want to see what crazy stat line Luka Doncic drops as an encore to his absurd 60-21-10 performance in a comeback overtime win over those same New York Knicks. Seriously, between the two aforementioned games and Harden’s 53-17-16 game against them in December 2016, Knicks fans have seen some monster numbers put up against them.

Doncic is on a bit of a run of his own Harden run right now. After dropping a 50-piece on the Rockets last week, he finished with 32-9-9 on Christmas Day against the Lakers, and followed that up with the destruction of the Knicks. On Christmas, we were all talking about how Nikola Jokic might be the favorite to win a third straight MVP award. Two nights later, he’s a distant second place to Doncic. A week ago, the Dallas Mavericks were 15-16 and looked vulnerable. Now, they’re 19-16 and just four games out of first place in the West.

To bring things back to the Rockets (you know, the team that this blog follows), they have played well on this road trip. There was a nice win in Chicago to end a dismal losing streak. Then they hung with the Celtics for about three quarters before the better-rested (and better overall) Celtics pulled away. Houston’s reward is a third game in four nights against the presumptive MVP in an arena that is going to go bananas every time Luka makes a free throw.

The Rockets and Mavs play again next week to wrap up their season series. We’ll probably have more of a conversation about heliocentric basketball then. But for now, we should appreciate Doncic for his brilliance. And we should curse Atlanta for thinking Trae Young would be the better player.

Tip-off is at 7:30pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest