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Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks game preview

The Rockets look to get their defense back on track against the short-handed Mavericks

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets
Only one of these two men scares me, and it ain’t Luka
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets like to lose games in groups of three.

Houston has 12 losses on the season, and each has come as part of a three-game losing streak. That’s good news for tonight, as Houston has reached the “end” of one of those three-game stretches, and welcome in a banged up Dallas Mavericks squad.

The Mavericks don’t have many secrets, and their preferred style of play is pretty well-known. In fact, Houston just saw it with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. And, you know, Houston created the blueprint for Dallas’s current offense in the Mike D’Antoni era. Dallas revolves around Luka Doncic much like Houston did with James Harden. They have a secondary threat in Kyrie Irving. There’s a lob threat who patrols the paint on defense. Then there are shooters galore and some spark-plug bench guys. That’s the strategy, and it doesn’t have a ton of holes other than “bad shooting night.” There’s a reason Houston was so successful with it, and that’s the same reason Dallas, Atlanta, and others are using it to this day.

Unfortunately for Dallas, they’re missing their two primary ball handlers. Their lob threat is also out. Plus they’ll probably be missing one of those shooters and a bench guy. With Irving out, the Mavs have relied even more heavily on Doncic, and it was that same over-reliance that led to Harden’s flameouts in the playoffs. So sitting him tonight and throughout the season is probably smart on their part, though technically they can’t rest him for “rest” since that goes against the new PPP.

The Mavericks have found a couple of Rockets killers, or “Thaddeus Youngs,” if you will. Dwight Powell has owned Alperen Sengun in the past, but only played three minutes in the first meeting between these two teams. And of course, there’s Tim Hardaway Jr., who has obliterated Houston every chance he can get. Seriously, THJ turns into prime Ray Allen when he sees those Rockets uniforms. It’s uncanny.


7pm CT

How to Watch

Space City Home Network



Tari Eason-GTD (leg)


Luka Doncic-OUT (quad)

Kyrie Irving-OUT (heel)

Dereck Lively II-OUT (ankle)

Josh Green-GTD (elbow)

Maxi Kleber-GTD (toe)

The Line (as of this post)

HOU -7.5

Looking ahead because we can

Saturday night in New Orleans