NBA Basketball
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153
Final-OT 1 2 3 4 OT Tot
Houston 42 33 33 31 14 153
Dallas 42 43 34 20 10 149
149
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CT0:00 , July 31, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena, Reunion, Florida

Harden, Rockets ready to restart vs. hungry Mavs

According to STATS
According to STATS

Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks

  1. These teams have split their last six meetings, dating back to last season. Over the last four seasons, the Rockets are 2-14 when scoring less than 95 points, with both wins coming against the Mavericks.
  2. The Mavericks are 21-12 (.636) away from American Airlines Center this season after going 9-32 (.220) last season. That .416 increase in road win percentage is largest in franchise history and is second in the NBA this season (Lakers, +.447).
  3. The Rockets are 8-6 since trading Clint Capela on February 5, including a six-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak. In the first 50 games of the season, Houston had a -0.5 rebounds per game margin but in the 14 games since trading Capela their rebounding margin is -8.0.
  4. Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 17.3 points and is shooting 40.3 percent from the field this season when Luka Doncic is in the lineup. In 10 games without Doncic, however, Porzingis is averaging 27.2 points and is shooting 47.5 percent.
  5. Over his last 20 games, Russell Westbrook is averaging just 2.05 three-point attempts per game and is shooting 53.5 percent from the field. Westbrook averaged 4.85 three-point attempts in his first 33 games and shot just 43.1 percent from the field.
  6. Since trading away Capela and acquiring Robert Covington on February 5, the Rockets are forcing 17.3 turnovers per game, third in the NBA over that span (Was, 19.4; Chi, 19.3). The Mavericks have turned the ball over just 12.8 times per game this season, third fewest in the NBA (SA, 12.3; Orl, 12.6).
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Before the NBA abruptly suspended the regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Rockets were in the throes of a grand experiment, intriguingly embracing a small-ball lineup while eyeballing another potentially extended postseason run.

Four-plus months later, the Rockets (40-24) will pick up where they left off, facing the Dallas Mavericks (40-27) on Friday in a seeding game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The Rockets enter the restart in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. With the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs set to be contested in Central Florida, the concept of home-court advantage has been devalued, rendering seeding an exercise in securing favorable first-round matchups. For teams that fancy themselves as title contenders, that work is beginning.

"These three preseason games and our practices, we've used those as opportunities to work on our offense and defense and make sure we're in shape to give ourselves the best chance," said Rockets guard James Harden, who leads the NBA in scoring at 34.4 points per game. "It's going to be a journey, and everybody is going to compete for a certain goal."

The Rockets will be hamstrung from the onset after losing reserve guard Eric Gordon to a left ankle sprain that will sideline him for a minimum of two weeks. Houston has ample depth to offset the loss, with Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni identifying Ben McLemore, Jeff Green and Austin Rivers as leading candidates to fill the void. Still, Gordon is a key cog who will be missed.

That injury development has done little to stall Houston's momentum or enthusiasm. It was difficult to grasp precisely who the Rockets were once they went small, but now they will have an opportunity to cement their identity and set a tone of expectations with the playoffs looming.

"I think guys are looking forward to it, although I think they enjoyed the scrimmages also," D'Antoni said. "But they're looking forward to getting it on and seeing what happens as it obviously relates to the playoffs. That's what we're here for, and we'll use those eight games to try to round off in better shape and get some concepts down."

The Mavericks are in a different space, having largely overachieved prior to the league shutting down. Dallas split a pair of earlier meetings with the Rockets and has proven a challenging matchup courtesy of an offense that ranks first in efficiency at 115.8 points per 100 possessions (just ahead of the second-ranked Rockets) with MVP candidate Luka Doncic at the controls.

With the postseason all but assured, the seventh-place Mavericks are angling for a first-round matchup that provides the greatest opportunity to advance and gives their young core valuable playoff experience. Dallas isn't yet a title threat, but what the Mavericks accomplish during these seeding games and later in the playoffs could set the tone for their franchise resurgence.

"We're a talented team," Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis told mavs.com, "... and now it's time for the real deal -- for the regular-season games and then the playoffs. So our excitement level is going to go a few levels up now. I think we're ready to go."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 31, 2020

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