The Dallas Mavericks conclude their three-game road trip with the first divisional contest against the Houston Rockets. The Los Angeles Clippers steamrolled the Mavs Wednesday night and the following evening saw our guys narrowly escape Phoenix with a victory over the Suns. The Mavs will look to end the trip with two wins when they leave the Toyota Center late tonight.
What to look for as Dallas breaks the Southwest Division ice and takes on their interstate foe Rockets. James Harden is now the face (or beard) of the franchise. Jeremy Lin didn’t last long in that position, but is having a suitable season thus far with his new backcourt mate. Mavs shouldn’t need worry about any “Linsanity” this time around as that phase has long past.
Houston has the NBA’s youngest roster, but still talented enough to be a .500 team in the deep Western Conference. Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson are both starters now and have made progressive improvements to their games. Along with Lin, the Rockets signed former Chicago Bulls reserve center Omir Asik this summer to round out the starting group.
In the midst of a personal tragedy, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale has been away from the team. McHale’s 23-year-old daughter Sasha passed away after a lengthy battle with lupus. In his absence Kelvin Sampson has been on the sidelines as acting head coach. Reports say that McHale might make his return to the team and coach in tonight’s matchup with the Mavs. Our condolences and continued prayers are with the McHale family and friends.
The Mavericks survived “Satisfaction Guaranteed Night” against the Suns, but at this point you take any win you can get. The goal is to just have as many victories by the time Dirk Nowitzki finally makes his grand return. Dallas currently sits in 10th place and out of the playoffs with its 9-10 record.
Not one Mavericks player has been steadfast with consistency, although O.J. Mayo still remains a pleasant addition with his much needed production offensively without Dirk. Vince Carter has been a major player off the Dallas bench, providing scoring and leadership when it’s needed most. His bright green light trigger draws the ire of fans at times, but I think most fans now appreciative his contributions.
The Matrix (doubtful) could sit this game out with a groin strain that he aggravated in the game Thursday night. Center Chris Kaman (questionable) may also be iffy after sustaining an ankle injury the same night. If both miss the game, the Mavs would be thin in the front court with only Elton Brand, Brandan Wright and rookie Sarge James available.
One Maverick player of note is Jae Crowder. His struggles the last couple weeks have been evident. The shots are not falling and he hasn’t been attacking more either. Crowder has not connected on a three point shot since the November 24th game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The cure for a grueling shooting stretch would be attack and see the ball go in at the foul line. I would like to see Crowder do just that in the minutes he may or may not play tonight.
The Mavericks and Rockets tip tonight at 7:00 p.m CT and airs on FSSW and CSH. Let’s go Mavs!
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