The Houston Rockets carry on with their comfortable home start to the season, although with some injury problems to James Harden, as they host the Dallas Mavericks in a great Texas derby, with Monta Ellis hoping he can continue to be such a great help to Dirk Nowitzki.
The Rockets had no problem in the first game of the season, showcasing a change in the lineup with Patrick Beverley starting at point guard and Dwight Howard making his debut in the lineup, playing next to Omer Asik. However, Beverley left the game early against the Bobcats with an injury, and Harden, who led the team in scoring with 21 points, has some wrist and back problems, although it should only keep him away from training, not playing.
This might mean good news for Jeremy Lin, who had a fine start to the season, playing 31 minutes off the bench and scoring 16 points. A lot was made out of McHale turning him into a sixth man, but he played better than Beverley all through the preseason and the short observation window the game against the Bobcats provided, which in the bottom line means he deserves to spend more time on the floor than Beverley.
The Mavs are also coming in riding high on confidence waves from their 118-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks, getting 32 points from Monta Ellis, possibly becoming that relief option for Dirk Nowitzki the Mavs have been looking for these last couple of years. Nowitzki still scored 24 points, but he looked a lot more relaxed serving at a decoy at times, not having to worry about being the focal point of the offense on every possession.
One thing the Mavs need to improve on is what they get from their bench, although Vince Carter did kick off the season scoring 21 points. If he’s going to play that well every night, there’s nothing really to worry about, but Shawn Marion and Samuel Dalembert aren’t going to light up the scoreboards, meaning DeJuan Blair, Carter, Crowder and for the time being Gal Mekel have to be consistent.
One problem for the Mavs might be when the Rockets use their “twin tower” lineup, although it might serve Houston to stay away from that when Nowitzki is on the floor, because it will force either Asik or Howard to step outside their comfort zone. However, playing one of the bigs on Marion isn’t such a bad choice.
Prediction – It’ll be interesting to see which lineup pulls the other one out of its comfort zone, but as playing styles are yet to be determined and coded into the DNA of the newly built teams, the Rockets’ talent and enthusiasm from Dwight Howard’s arrival should be enough.