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Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

The Rockets and Mavericks wrap up the In-Season Tournament tonight

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this season, the Houston Rockets got a long layoff before heading on the road for a tough road trip. Houston is still without a road win, but only one of the five games has been a blowout, and that came all the way back on Opening Night against an Orlando Magic team that is showing that they’re for real in the East.

The quality of the opponents matter as well. Orlando, both LA teams, and Golden State are good teams that all figure to be playoff teams at this stage of the season. Yes, the San Antonio loss (in overtime) is disappointing when you see that the Spurs have lost 12 straight, but they were just 0-1 at the time, not 3-14.

This road trip doesn’t make life any easier on the Rockets. After tonight, Houston will get on a plane and travel to Denver’s altitude, where the Nuggets will of course have Tuesday night off. The Rockets have beaten the Nuggets twice this year, so you can expect them to come out strong to prevent a season series sweep. Houston will then travel to Los Angeles for another game against the Lakers. That will also be the third and final meeting between those teams, and for a second I thought about tiebreakers, which is not something I thought would cross my mind this season. Man, this has been fun.

Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks will probably have Luka Doncic even with a broken thumb, and Kyrie Irving still exists. Houston has avoided two of the elite guards they were supposed to play (De’Aaron Fox and Jamal Murray twice each), and the one they did play (Steph Curry) shot efficiently and did Steph Curry things in both matchups. Point being, this is another test for Houston’s defense. Can they wrangle Dallas’s two best players? And can they attack them on the other end of the floor like they did to Michael Porter Jr. on Friday night? And who will be Dallas’s third guy: Tim Hardaway Jr., who normally torches the Rockets, or someone else?

Oh yeah, this is also Houston’s last In-Season Tournament game. A win advances them to the next group, which would provide a good experience for this young group with a dearth of big game opportunities in recent years.

Tip-off

7:30pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network

Injuries/Other

Rockets

Amen Thompson-OUT (ankle)

Dillon Brooks-probable (hip)

Tari Eason-probable (leg)

Jae’Sean Tate-probable (knee)

Fred VanVleet-probable (thumb)

Mavericks

Luka Doncic-GTD (thumb)

Derek Lively II-GTD (back)

Maxi Kleber-GTD (toe)

Looking ahead because we can

Tomorrow night in Denver