The Dallas Mavericks set Twitter ablaze last Thursday night as they dropped their opening game in Atlanta by 26 points in a game that shouldn’t have even been that close. Mavericks fans stormed social media to voice their displeasure with Jason Kidd’s offensive system, Kristaps Porzingis’ meager showing and Dwight Powell’s 4 points after just one game into the season. The Mavericks shot 33% from the field, an output that would cause a loss in most cases whether or not certain players played up to par or a certain scheme worked. In Toronto on Saturday night, the Mavericks rebounded from an abysmal first quarter to win against the Raptors 103-95 in a game that featured dominant performances from Luka Dončić and Tim Hardaway, Jr. The Mavericks seemed much more comfortable in their new offensive scheme as the game progressed, and their new defensive intensity was on display, forcing 12 turnovers in a much needed calming effect for fans and the team.
The Mavericks are set to face the Houston Rockets on Tuesday evening at the AAC in their home opener. Houston has taken 20 of the last 27 games versus the Dallas, as Dallas has not won a season series against Houston since 2012-2013. The Rockets come into the game at 1-2 with their only win coming against the also rebuilding OKC Thunder. Houston is led by Christian Wood (22.3/10.7/1.7) and rookie Jalen Green (16.0/3.7/3.0),. Green, the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, is a terrific scorer and put that skill on display Sunday in a loss to the Celtics when he scored 30 points with 8 three pointers.
Dallas comes into the game led by Luka Dončić (22.5/10.0/9.5) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (19.5/2.5/1.0), both of whom are fantastic scorer in their own rights. Against the Raptors, Dončić nearly had a triple double while THJ hit 7 three pointers. The Mavericks have struggled against the Rockets last season, often times playing down to their competition. The expectation for Tuesday nights game is to see more continuity among the offense, a group that seemed to begin to gel in the second half against the Raptors. The Mavericks come into the game shooting 37.5% from the field and 31.8% from deep, numbers that are skewed by the rough game against the Hawks. Obviously, the Mavericks will have to improve on these numbers in order to win against their rivals.
The overreaction to the beginning of the season has been unwarranted as it’s only been 2 games, and the Mavericks have a chance to get back on track against a Rockets team that isn’t expected to make much noise in the Western Conference. Look for Luka Dončić to continue to get his teammates involved and for the offensive system to begin showing some of the fantastic things we saw in the preseason. The Mavericks have been plagued by poor shooting performances to start the season but seemed to rectify some of this in the second half in Toronto. Assuming this carries over to the home opener, the Mavericks should have no problem putting away the Rockets.
Prediction: Mavericks 121, Rockets 98