Preview: Mavs enter Houston for start of pivotal home-and-home series
Preview: Mavericks (26-32) at Rockets (32-28)
Mavs enter Houston for start of pivotal home-and-home series
HOUSTON — As they enter the Toyota Center hoping that history repeats itself against the Houston Rockets, the Dallas Mavericks will also try to end their three-game road trip with a win over the team they’re chasing for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
Beginning a home-and-home series against the Rockets (32-28) that concludes in Dallas on Wednesday night to wrap up the season series, the Mavericks (26-32) will attempt to make up ground on the team they’re chasing for a playoff position, entering Sunday’s matchup five games back and four games behind in the loss column. Dallas will also try to continue its dominance over its in-state rival after claiming the previous nine matchups between the two teams, including both Southwest Division showdowns earlier this season.
“Well, things have been urgent for us all year, so nothing changes,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Every games is really important. We don’t even need to look at the standings to know that. It’s all about just preparing ourselves to play our best game. … Houston’s a team we’re trying to catch obviously, but we need to win to move up regardless of who the opponent is.
“It’s all about preparing ourselves to play our game as best we can, and we’ve got to slow them down,” he added. “I mean, these guys run fast, they play hard, they score like a son of a gun and they’re hard to play.”
Thanks to leading scorer O.J. Mayo’s 40-point effort back on Dec. 8 to outduel James Harden’s 39-point night to carry the Rockets, the Mavs were able to sneak away with a 116-109 road win without the services of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki while he rehabbed from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery. Nowitzki then returned to the lineup to score 19 points in the Mavs’ 105-100 home victory on Jan. 16.
Now, Nowitzki will try to lead his team to a 2-1 mark to conclude the Mavs' road trip after holding on for a 98-90 victory in Brooklyn Friday night to bring a three-game losing streak to an end.
“It’s going to be a fun, up-and-down game, but they’re tough. It’s been always fun games when we play down in Houston — a lot of high-scoring games and some overtime games over the years. And we’ve just got to go in and let it rip and play together as a team. It should be fun,” Nowitzki said while breaking down the pivotal home-and-home series.
He added: “We’re battling from behind a little bit, but we’ve got to make the best out of it. Obviously these are two big games for us, and Houston is playing really well. You know, Harden is having an unbelievable year. All the other guys are playing off of him well. They’re shooting the ball, sharing the ball and they’re a scoring machine, so we’ve got to find a way to slow them down a little. But it’s always fun games in here. The atmosphere is great over the years. We’ve had some great games down here and some overtime games, and it’s going to be a fun challenge for sure.”
Note The Mavericks head into Houston for the start of a pivotal home-and-home series against the Rockets, who currently sit five games up on Dallas in the Western Conference’s race for the eighth position. The Mavs lead the season series 2-0. The game will air locally Sunday at 6 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.
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