Houston Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks game preview - November 16

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks
Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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The Houston Rockets travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Wednesday, November 16. The Mavericks are fifth in the Western Conference with an 8-5 record, while the Rockets sit in last at 2-12. Both teams are coming off contests against the Los Angeles Clippers but had decidedly different results. 

The Rockets lost 122-106 on Monday night, while the Mavericks came through in the clutch and beat the Clippers 103-101 on Tuesday. The Mavericks are playing the second night of a back-to-back, but even with the rest disadvantage, they will be favorites against the Houston Rockets. 

Outside of the scheduling break, the Rockets have secured another crucial advantage. Luka Doncic will be out resting. One of the MVP front runners, Doncic is leading the NBA in points per game and box plus/minus, and his absence gives the Rockets a fighting chance. These are the stats to know, the player to watch on the Mavericks, and X-factor for the Rockets.

Houston Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks: Stats to know

Focusing on the Mavericks’ offensive statistical profile with Doncic out is somewhat of a fruitless endeavor. He has a 38.8% usage rate and accounts for 53.3% of their league-leading 16.5 isolation possessions per game, 72.4% of their pick-and-roll ball handler possessions, and 62.5% of their 7.2 post up possessions. Simply put, he is their sun, their stars, their moon, their dark matter, their quarks on offense. 

Spencer Dinwiddie will likely be tasked with absorbing some of the pick-and-roll and isolation responsibilities, and Christian Wood will take on some isolation and post up possessions. The Mavericks have been one of the most pass-averse and the slowest team with Luka Doncic at the helm, but expect them to share the ball and push the pace more in his absence. 

Defensively, the stats can give us a better idea of how the Mavericks intend to slow down the Rockets. They force the fourth most turnovers, rebound the defensive glass slightly above league average, and prevent transition opportunities by not being aggressive on the offensive glass. One area of weakness is they do allow the fourth most free throws to field goal attempts.

The Mavericks’ defensive shot chart is solid. They allow the fourth-fewest 3-pointers, the second-most mid-range jumpers, and the sixth-most long-twos. However, they’re league-average at preventing shots around the rim and are poor at preventing them from going in. 

Stylistically, the Rockets’ offense should be able to do some damage around the basket generating lay-ups, dunks, free throws, and offensive boards. However, 3-point shooting could swing the game. If the Mavericks are able to prevent the Rockets from getting clean looks beyond the arc and force mid-range jumpers, the Rockets’ offense could suffer.