First place in the Southwest Division will likely be on the line when the Houston Rockets welcome the Dallas Mavericks to town on Friday night. These are the top teams in the Lone Star State this season, and Houston and Dallas both have a potential MVP. The Rockets are led by former MVP James Harden, while last year’s Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic have improved by leaps and bounds in his second season. Houston currently has a half-game lead in the standings as of Wednesday afternoon with a 29-17 record compared to a 29-18 mark for Dallas.
This game will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on January 31, 2020, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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Head-To-Head Results to Date
This is the second of four meetings between these Texas teams this season. In the first game between Houston and Dallas, Doncic dominated in leading the Mavericks to a 137-123 win over the Rockets in the Toyota Center. He went 15-30 from the floor and tallied 41 points, while Tim Hardaway Jr. exploded for 31 points on 10-18 shooting. Kristaps Porzingis had a great game too, tallying 23 points and 13 rebounds while shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Dallas center Dwight Powell underwent season-ending surgery for a torn Achilles’ tendon on Tuesday. Powell will be missed as he was the team’s presence down low, allowing Porzingis to play on the wing as he prefers. Without him, Rick Carlisle will likely have to play Porzingis closer to the block and that will take away from his dynamite perimeter shooting.
There are serious concerns for the Rockets on the injury front headed into Friday night. James Harden and Clint Capela are both questionable with Harden dealing with a thigh injury and Capela coping with a heel issue. Additionally, Nene is out for another three weeks with a hip problem, while Gerald Green won’t play for the remainder of the regular season because of a foot problem. If Harden can’t go, that will completely change Houston’s strategy, and Russell Westbrook will have a much larger role.
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Doncic is having a transcendent season. He has taken the torch from Dirk Nowitzki as the best European player in the league, and he is joined by another European star in Porzingis. The Slovenian guard is a matchup nightmare as he has the size to get his shot off against shorter guards, and the speed and agility to outmaneuver big men. He is hitting 57.8 percent of his two-point attempts, and he is nearly averaging a triple-double per game. Doncic is averaging 28.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 8.7 APG, and he leads the Mavericks in each category. His only faults are his high turnover rate (4.2 TO per game) and his subpar three-point shooting.
Harden’s underwhelming performance from beyond the arc cost Houston in the last meeting between these teams. He went 2-15 from three-point range, but Capela kept Houston somewhat close with his performance. Capela exploded for 21 points on 10-16 shooting, and he grabbed 23 rebounds with 10 of those coming on the offensive glass. Not having Powell means that Dallas must have someone to contain Capela on the boards, provided Capela is healthy enough to play.
Since there are so many injury concerns with Houston, Dallas has to be the play even without Powell. The Rockets don’t have much of a bench, and everything runs through Capela, Harden, and Westbrook. With two of those players potentially banged up and sidelined, I like the Mavericks to pick up the win.
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