Setting the Table: Houston Rockets (Game 20)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on December 8, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (9-10) have a chance to do something they’ve haven’t done in a while if they can secure a victory over the Houston Rockets (9-9) on Saturday night. Dallas is looking for their first set of back-to-back wins since 11/3-11/7 when they won three in a row. It’s been a while. They will take on a Rockets squad that lost in San Antonio 114-92 on Friday night. It will be a challenge for Dallas as Houston owns an active six-game home winning streak (11/14/12-12/4/12). Over the run, the Rockets have scored 112.0 points/game, while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

In an update from injuries suffered in the game against Phoenix, Shawn Marion is doubtful for the game against the Rockets, and Chris Kaman might be able to play, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after the morning shootaround in Houston. The Mavericks have a chance for consecutive wins, getting back to .500 and putting an end to the Rockets’ home win-streak. It should be a fun one in Houston.

Here are notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Rockets.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks swept the 2011-12 season series with Houston (3-0) and have now won seven straight regular-season meetings with the Rockets. It’s the Mavericks’ longest active winning streak against any team. The Rockets’ last victory over the Mavericks in the regular season came at Houston on 12/31/09 (defeated Dallas 97-94). However, five of the last six meetings have been decided by seven points or less. Dallas has won 21 of the last 27 regular season matchups with the Rockets. The Mavericks have taken 12 of the last 16 showdowns in Houston. Brandan Wright recorded a career-high seven blocked shots at Houston on 3/24/12. He became the eighth player in Mavericks history to record seven blocks in a game and the first since Erick Dampier had seven vs. Chicago on 2/25/08. Wright averaged 10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 28.3 minutes against Houston last year, while shooting 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the field. Vince Carter averaged 11.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 23.7 minutes in three games (two starts) against the Rockets in 2011-12. The Mavericks and the Rockets met
once in the 2012 preseason (at Dallas on 10/15/12) and Dallas recorded a 123-104 win.

It’s a Small World:

Rockets guard Jeremy Lin began his NBA career with the Mavericks’ Las Vegas summer league team in 2010. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle were teammates on the Boston Celtics from 1984-86 and won an NBA championship together in 1986. Mavericks guard Derek Fisher and Rockets guards James Harden and Daequan Cook reached the 2012 NBA Finals together as members of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rockets player development coach Greg Buckner played for the Mavericks from 1999-2002 and again in 2006-07. He averaged 5.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 19.5 minutes in 205 games (37 starts) with Dallas. When he returned for his second stint with Dallas in 2006-07, he played in a career-high 76 games that season.

Mavericks swingman Vince Carter (Daytona Beach), Mavericks guard Dominique Jones (Lake Wales), Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (Casselberry) and Rockets guard Toney Douglas (Tampa) were all born in Florida. Douglas (Jonesboro HS in Jonesboro, Ga.) attended high school in Georgia, the same state that Mavericks forward Jae Crowder (Villa Rica HS in Villa Rica, Ga.) and Mavericks center Bernard James (Windsor Forest HS in Savannah, Ga.) both attended high school in. Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith and Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones worked together on the athletic training staff for the U.S. Sr. National Basketball program from 2006-2008 (2006 World Championships, 2007 Olympic Qualifying, 2008 Summer Olympics).

Three Keys:

1. Contain James Harden. The former member of the Thunder ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 23.9 points/game. Dallas remembers how much of a pest Harden can be as he lit the Mavericks up as he averaged 18.3 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field and 46.2 percent shooting from 3-point range in the Thunder’s first round sweep of the Mavericks last year in the Playoffs. Keep in mind, Harden achieved those numbers as a sixth man for the Thunder. With Marion gimpy after suffering a right groin injury in Phoenix, the Mavericks will have to rely on Dahntay Jones a little more in Houston as an option in defending Harden.

2. Account for Asik. Omer Asik is already having a career-year and has become an early frontrunner for this season’s NBA Most Improved Player. He has already recorded career-high runs of four consecutive 10-plus rebounding games (11/2/12 through 11/9/12 and 11/23/12 through 12/1/12) and six straight 10-plus scoring games (11/7/12 through 11/16/12). Over his first two seasons with Chicago, Asik had nine total games with 10 or more boards, but none came in consecutive outings. Overall, Asik has nine double-doubles on the season. Asik stands third in the NBA in rebounds per game (11.7). With rebounding being an issue for the Mavericks, they have to make sure Asik doesn’t go crazy on them.

3. Establish consistency first. Both of these teams are relatively young, but the squadron in Houston is significantly younger. The Rockets enter the 2012-13 NBA season as both the youngest team (23.98 average age) and the least experience (1.9 average experience) of any team in the league. Houston returned just four players from last season’s squad and only one starter: Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and Greg Smith.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.