NBA Playoffs: Houston Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks
Series Preview and Analysis
Record: 50-32, Western: 7 Seed Record: 56-26, Western: 2 Seed,
Southwest: 4th, last ten 5-5 Southwest: Won Division, last ten 7-3
Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets
Sat Apr 18, 9:30 PM EST – ESPN, RTSW, KTXA
Toyota Center – Houston, TX
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The Only Inter-State Series:
While both teams are from Texas (as is San Antonio) they are actually a further distance from each other (3 hours 32 minutes) than Chicago and Milwaukee (1 hour 37 minutes). Still, the lack of travel for whoever wins the series will be a benefit for the victor as the wear and tear of the later rounds begin to take their toll.
The Off Court Rivalry:
Could the rivalry off the court between Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban be more intriguing than the one on the court? Ironically these two who are always trying to one up each other are extremely similar in that:
- They are probably the two biggest advocates of analytics in the Association
- They go after the same players: both teams sought out free agent Dwight Howard with the Rockets winning the bidding war. Then Morey went after free agent Dirk Nowitzki which ticked off Cuban and seemingly was the primary factor igniting the war between the two. In what was considered the response to losing Howard and the play to get Dirk, Cuban offered Chandler Parsons $46 million, 3-year contract forcing the Rockets hands to allow him to walk.
- The bottom line is this is bound to be a physical series, however the dirtiest shots may come via sound bites off court from these 2 gentlemen as neither is scared to sound off or engage in a social media war. Mark my words before this series shifts to Dallas one of these guys will light a fire with some sort of cheap shot quip.
- Check out additional historical facts between the two clubs which Trey Oursler covered in Part 2 of the Series Preview
Sure the knee could be the biggest factor in the series, but the more intriguing fact is while Cuban thought the loss of Parsons would hurt Houston, the reality is the Rockets signed THREE players for less than Parsons’ salary. To wit, Parsons will earn $14.7M this season whereas Trevor Ariza at $8.6M, Corey Brewer at $4,702.5M and Josh Smith at just under $.946 M still leaves $451,722 in the Rockets pockets!
The Powerhouse Division:
I live in Toronto so I’m used to being kidded regarding the Raptors winning the “Titanic” Division. Granted 2 Eastern Conference teams made the playoffs (both from the Atlantic division) with sub .500 records. Conversely the Rockets are the winners of the strongest division in the Association which is witnessing all 5 teams from the Southwest participating in the playoffs. To wit, I find it interesting the Rockets continue to be overlooked as a good team with many citing Houston as the one top seed who could be ousted in the first round. News flash: the Rockets weren’t handed 56 wins they EARNED them, and did so having to face the 4 other Southwest teams 16 times usually short handed!
Prior to joining Space City Scoop I caught a few Houston games every month, but this season having watched all their games I’ll share some insight. Repeatedly I hear the opposition’s broadcast team comment on the deceiving defensive abilities of Houston. They employ a defense that shuts down the paint and run shooters off the perimeter but offer leniency in the mid-court. Additionally, they agitate teams with their active hands and ball pressure forcing turnovers. Post game interviews often include player sound bites citing how frustrated they were by the Rockets’ defense. Whether this will be a factor versus Dallas remains to be seen, but considering Ellis, Nowitzki and a healthy Parsons are all great mid-range shooters could find the Rockets needing to adjust their strategy.
Will this be an ugly series with savvy head coach Rick Carlisle employing the Hack-A-Smith/Howard/Dorsey strategy? And conversely will McHale counter with a Hack-A-Rondo strategy?
Next: The Numbers Don't Lie