Following their blowout loss in New Orleans on a back-to-back, the Mavericks are back home tonight as the Houston Rockets are in town. Just last week, the Mavericks went into the Toyota Center and knocked off the Rockets so here are a few things to watch for as Dallas looks to make it two in a row against their in-state rival.
No DSJ or Dirk tonight
As Rick Carlisle stated at practice yesterday, Dennis Smith Jr. was doubtful for tonight’s game as he continues to deal with a sore right wrist. This will likely make for his second straight game out of the lineup. In last week’s matchup with Houston, the Rockets were without their point guard, Chris Paul so it looks like this time around the tides have turned.
In regards to Dirk, it had been reported that Dirk was close to returning to the court, yet it won’t be tonight. That Dude is expected to return some time this upcoming week, hopefully in the final two games of the current home-stand against the Magic and Hawks.
Without Dennis in the lineup, that will mean another opportunity for Luka to run the point on his own in the starting lineup. Having a defensive presence on the wing with Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews, and Dorian Finney-Smith in the starting lineup will be able to frustrate the Rockets and hinder their three point efficiency.
It’s been noted that the Dallas bench has been an essential aspect to this team’s success so far this season. That will continue to ring true tonight against the Rockets. In last week’s victory, the Maverick bench dominated the Rockets’ second unit. JJ Barea, Devin Harris, Maxi Kleber, and Dwight Powell all scored a +24 plus/minus or higher. That is a serious advantage to have in your arsenal if you are Rick Carlisle and he is very aware of that.
By losing guys like Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute this summer in free agency while also failing to acclimate Carmelo Anthony to the rotation this season, the Rockets have found themselves with a depleted rotation. The burden on James Harden has grown and with guys like Chris Paul and Eric Gordon struggling to start the season, the Mavs can take advantage of the Houston second unit when Harden needs a breather.
Defending the three
Though they have shot the three ball worse than last season so far this season at 33.8%, the Rockets still shoot the most shots from downtown per game in the league. Dallas did a good job of defending the perimeter in their first matchup with Houston, forcing them to only make 28.9% of their three point shots, while the Mavericks made half of their three’s in the game. Even though they have struggled this season, the Mavericks wing defenders cannot let up on guys like PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, and clearly Harden, who all are trigger happy from deep.
Before the Mavs square off against the Magic on December 10th, Panini America will be offering more than 10,000 special sets of Dirk Nowitzki trading cards to fans as they enter the arena.
This unique six-card legacy set will feature some of the most memorable moments of Dirk’s career, including:
- Winning the MVP in 2006-07
- Reaching 31,000 career points
- Averaging 26 points and 9.7 rebounds against the Heat in the 2011 Finals
- Joining the 50,000 minute club
- Playing the most games in one season by a player in their 20th season or later
- Winning the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in 2017
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