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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
Luka Doncic Austin Rivers (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

3 Keys to victory

3-pointers: It’s a make-or-miss league, and the Mavericks and Rockets take the highest percentage of their shots from behind the arc, so it’s no coincidence that the first key to victory is who can win the 3-point battle.

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The Mavericks shot 41.4 percent on corner threes, third-best in the league, so how well the Rockets are able to defend the corners will be crucial.

All it could take to swing the game is if Harden or Doncic catch fire with their step-back threes. There’s not much a defense can do when that happens, which means this game could come down to who has the hottest hand.

Containing Porzingis: Luka Doncic is going to get his — that’s why he’s a superstar. Porzingis, on the other hand, has had his ups and downs.

The Rockets need the combination of P.J. Tucker, Robert Covington, and Jeff Green to slow down the lanky Latvian while continuously dragging him out of the paint on defense.

Porzingis is the X-factor for the Mavericks, and the Rockets need to neutralize him if they want to grab hold of the West’s sixth seed.

Attacking the Mavericks’ Guards: The Dallas Mavericks’ offense is one of the best in NBA history, but their defense is merely average. The payoff has been worth it, but it leaves them susceptible to explosive guards, and the Rockets happen to have two of those in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Rockets need to attack the Mavericks’ guard rotation early and often to turn one of the Mavericks’ strengths into a weakness.

Next. Why the Rockets will be okay without Gordon

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To say there’s a lot at stake on Friday night would be an understatement when these teams meet up at 9 PM ET on ESPN.

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