Rockets vs. Mavericks: Preview, keys to victory, matchups to watch for

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Kristaps Porzingis Russell Westbrook (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

3 Things to Watch for

Post-ups: Neither the Rockets nor the Mavericks run many post-up plays, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. If the Mavericks can successfully run post-ups against the Rockets’ micro-ball lineup, it could force the Rockets to play a traditional center.

Slowing the Rockets down through post-ups could also allow the Mavericks to use their size advantage to brutalize them on the boards. Kristaps Porzingis might be over seven feet tall, but he has been an inefficient scorer in the post at .79 points per possession. The Rockets are going to need it to stay that way if they want to continue to play micro ball.

A whole lot of 3’s: As mentioned before, the Rockets and the Mavericks take more 3-pointers than any other team in the league. The winner of the game will likely be the team that hits more of their threes, which means whoever can generate the most open looks should have the upper hand. Will it be the Mavs pick and roll or the Rockets spaced out isolation ball that leads to more open looks?

Related Story. Breaking down the last 8 games for the Rockets

Pace: The Rockets get out and play at a top-five pace in the league while the Mavericks are in the middle of the pack at 18th. Whichever team is able to dictate the pace of play will gain an advantage. The veteran savvy of James Harden and Russell Westbrook probably gives an edge to the Rockets over the Mavericks in being able to control the tempo of the game.

As great as Luka Doncic is, he is only a second-year player that will be tasked with a massive creative burden.

Next: 3 Keys to victory