Game Day: Houston Rockets
Record: 51-24, Western: 3rd Record: 46-29, Western: 7th,
Southwest: 2nd, last ten 8-2 Southwest: 4th, last ten 5-5
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
Thu Apr 2, 8:30 PM EST – FSSW, CSNH, RTSW, C+D
American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
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Next: The Numbers Don't Lie
Feb 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) dribbles as Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) defends during the game at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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No injuries recorded
Donatas Motiejunas sidelined 1 to 2 weeks (back).
Patrick Beverley torn ligament in wrist. Today social media reports he’ll have season ending surgery.
Kostas Papanikolaou (ankle) McHale updated he remains 7-10-days away from a return.
Next: What do you have in reserve?
Feb 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Amar
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Full bench stats at hoopsstats.com
With the Rockets holding out Dwight Howard last night they tipped their hat that this inter-division game versus Dallas is of much more importance. He’ll be tasked with dealing with Tyson Chandler who provides basically the same defensive presence Howard does for the Mavericks. The other intriguing match-up will be Monta Ellis who returned Wednesday versus James Harden
After his last 50 point effort March 19th, Harden followed it up with 16 against the Suns; not necessarily a team known for their defensive prowess. Ellis for his part is still shaking off the rust returning from his most recent injury so it’s not a given he’ll be explosive either.
Next: Difference Makers
Feb 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo (9) and forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during the game against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
- Monta Ellis 19.2 points per game
- Tyson Chandler 11.4 rebounds per game
- Rajon Rondo 6.5 assists per game
- Brandan Wright 1.6 blocks per game
- Monta Ellis 2.0 steals per game
- James Harden 27.6 points per game
- Dwight Howard 10.6 rebounds per game
- James Harden 7.0 assists per game
- Terrence Jones 1.8 blocks per game
- James Harden 1.9 steals per game
Keys To Winning:
- TURN OVERS: I know, I know, it’s a broken record, but the reality is the one key area of this Houston squad that needs to improve in the next 7 games is protecting the rock. Needless turnovers lead to easy offense and it’s the one main problem Houston has. Pablo Prigioni has been stellar off the bench and the Mavericks aren’t the best defensively but they are the third best at protecting the ball. And, both teams are good at forcing turnovers ranking 3rd (Houston) and 4th (Dallas) respectively.
- BENCH PRODUCTION: While Dallas began the season without much in their reserve tank the addition of Amare Stoudemire and JJ Barea have actually added the required back-up they’ve needed and the team ranks high for bench production. The problems have been isolated more with the starting unit and the issues between Ellis and Rondo. Even with these issues the Mavericks have an extremely solid starting 5 in Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Ellis and Rondo. The Rockets can counter with a solid starting 5 especially with Howard playing so the game may end up coming down to who can do more damage off the bench.
- PACE: With the second ranked pace you would think the Rockets have an edge, but functioning at a faster pace may play right into the Mavericks hands. If the Rockets do this they’ll jeopardize turning over the ball which will lead to transition buckets and an increased offensive output. The Rockets will need to be careful how they manipulate the pace so they balance it with their stronger defense.
- PICK YOUR POISON: If you shut down Ellis it may be the key, but then you have Parsons and Nowitzki to address. Fortunately the return of Jones will help in the front court and the Rockets do have a much better defensive squad than the Mavericks.
- Three Point Shooting: While both teams rank high for their own 3-point shot the Rockets hold a huge advantage in perimeter defense. They basically employ a defense that plugs the paint and defends the arc but allows mid range shots, look for Dallas to exploit the mid-range of the field. Offensively Houston are better with Howard in the line-up as it tends to free up their perimeter shot so if they get hot early we could see them launching bombs all night, especially if Harden’s hot touch carries over into tonight.
Next: And the magic eight ball predicts...
Feb 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) looks to drive as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends during the game at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The odds makers favor Dallas by 2.5 points which is likely attributed to the home court. With Howard back I’m not so sure the advantage is that clear. Houston hold the advantage having won 4 of the past 5 outings and will be looking for vengeance for the recent loss.
The Rockets are 10 – 7 in the second night of back to back games while Dallas is 9 – 6 in their back to back games which doesn’t really give the edge to either.
As far as jockeying for position the Mavericks seem destined to finish in seventh given they hold a four game lead over Oklahoma City with both teams having just 7 games left in their schedule. The team in front of the Mavericks is San Antonio who hold a three game lead on Dallas.
Conversely, Houston actually has an opportunity to move up in the playoff seeds and win the Southwest Division, but it will take some doing. They currently sit third, but have the same record as Memphis. By virtue of having a better record versus the conference Memphis has the tie break (for now). The Rockets options will lie in whether they can make up the 2 game lead Memphis holds in conference wins and to win more divisional games where the Grizzlies also hold an advantage by virtue of having played 3 more divisional games.
The best chance the Rockets have is to take matters into their own hands by winning as many of their final 7 games as possible and hope they finish with one more win than Memphis. Tonight they get their first chance as they travel to Dallas and look to pick up their 52nd win of the season.
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