Houston Rockets Game Day: Interdivision Rivalry


Houston Rockets Game Day:

Inter Division rivals enter the Toyota Center today on a bit of a spiral downward after having lost 3 consecutive games. While the news of the day initially was whether Dwight Howard would return from his twisted ankle to face Tyson Chandler it has quickly changed to the prospect of Terrence Jones‘ return. Both will be game time decisions, but the fact Jones is ready to make his return is thrilling news for the squad.

Story Lines:

  • Chandler Parsons makes his second appearance in Houston following his departure this summer. In his first appearance he scored 8 points, had 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal
  • Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler are both nursing injuries, while Chandler is listed to play Howard won’t be confirmed until game time
  • Fan favorite, Terrence Jones may return to the court after only appearing in 8 games this season
  • The Mavericks and Rockets have been see-sawing positions back and forth all season. Currently the Rockets sit one and half games in front of the Mavericks
  • The Mavericks are on their longest losing streak of the season (3)
  • Dallas has the second highest point scoring average with 107.5 per game, but during their 3-game losing streak have only scored 98 ppg
  • Perhaps this is the hottest rivalry in the Southwest Division, but more of that is due to off court debates between Houston GM Daryl Morey and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban who’ve

Team Rank:

Houston: enter the day in 5th place in the west and 2nd in Southwest Division

Dallas: 3rd in Southwest Division, 6th in west

Offense: Houston: 14th (103.6 points per 100 possessions) – Dallas: 2nd (110.8 points per 100 possessions)

Defense: Houston: 5th (allowing 99.6 points per 100 possessions) – Dallas: 15th (allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions)

Net: Houston: 8th with a positive point differential of +4.0 – Dallas 4th with a positive point differential of +7.4

Pace: Houston: 5th with a pace of 98.5 possessions over 48 minutes -Dallas: 12th with a pace of 96.8 possessions over 48 minutes

Points Per Game: Houston: 7th  –  Dallas: 2nd

Rebounds Per Game: Houston: 13th -Dallas: 21st

Assists Per Game:  Houston: 17th – Dallas: 8th

Opposition Points Per game: Houston: 13th –  Dallas: 23rd

Stats via nba.com


  • While the Mavericks bench ranks 14th in points per game with 34.5 this number is misleading given their trades.
  • Ditto for the point differential where Mavericks rank 9th with a +5 differential (positive)
  • Houston on the season rank 26.8 points and sit in 29th a differential of -11.5 (negative)
  • Examining the last 10 games we find Dallas slipping to 22nds with a negative differential of -6.8
  • Also in the past 10 games the Mavericks bench scoring has dropped off to 29.5 ranking them 24th. That’s a decrease of 5 ppg
  • Houston still has issues with their bench but are seeing small improvements: scoring has increased to 32.5 and point differential is negative -16.8  however much of the latter number can be attributed to the Golden State losses

Full bench stats at hoopsstats.com

Key Match-Ups:

Monta Ellis has become the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas but hasn’t had his best showings vs. Houston who’ve held him to 29.8% shooting and an average of 13.7 points over their last 3 games. The question will be who will guard Ellis, logically Trevor Ariza would be assigned Ellis to utilize his length and speed but with James Harden‘s improved defense could we see James on Monta and Trevor on Tyson in an effort to shut down both their wings.

The other key match-up will be Donatas Motiejunas on Tyson Chandler as both will try to be factors at the rim especially if Howard is unable to play. While Chandler will be a difficult match up for Demo conversely he provides an interesting problem for Chandler on offense because he stretches the floor and will pull Chandler away from the rim. Watch for the insertion of Terrence Jones which will surely lift the home team upon his entry to the game and ovation that’s surely to accompany his insertion should he play.

Walking Wounded:

Dallas: have no players reported on injury list


  • Dwight Howard is not expected to play after re-tweaking his ankle in practice
  • Terrence Jones has been activated and should see 15 to 20 minutes playing time in his return

Keys To Winning:

  • Pace: Houston boasts a much faster pace (5) than Dallas (12) so they should look to control the speed of the game
  • Defense: Houston has fallen to 5th after sitting in the 2nd spot for the majority of the season so they’ll be looking to lock down on Dallas and extend their losing streak to 4
  • Low turnovers: take care of the rock
  • Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki are both lethal shooters so Houston will need to limit their catches where possible. Force Rondo into being a shooter.

The Pick:

The odds makers have Houston favored by 3.5 points. While the Mavericks are on a 3-game losing streak Houston has won 3 of 4. Watch for Dirk Nowitzki to make a dent in the game given the inter division rivalry and fact Dallas hasn’t lost 4 in a row since January of 2013. Rockets by 3.

Enjoy the game and join us afterward for player grades.