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The Mavericks take on the Rockets for the first time this season

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The Mavericks and the Rockets meet in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

What did the Rockets do over the summer?

Coming off of their first Western Conference finals appearance since 1997, the Rockets had a relatively quiet summer. They let Josh Smith go and acquired point guard Ty Lawson, taking advantage of some personal and legal troubles to get the former Denver standout at a discount.

What have the Rockets done lately?

The Rockets got off to a rocky start this season, going 0-3 thanks in part to James Harden's poor play (he's shot under 25 percent from three this season) and the absence of Dwight  Howard, who is once again suffering from back injuries.

Ty Lawson has also disappointed, playing worse on almost every measure than he did during his time in Denver. One of the few bright spots for the Rockets has been the development of Clint Capela, the second year center who's done a solid job filling in for Dwight Howard.

The Rockets have been almost the mirror opposite of the Mavericks this season. The two teams are tied at .500 in the bottom half of the West, several spots higher than anyone predicted the Mavericks would land and several spots lower than most expected to see the Rockets. The Rockets come into the matchup having lost their last two, including last night's tilt at Denver.

What do the Mavericks need to do to be successful?

The Rockets will be missing Dwight Howard, who is not yet playing both games of back-to-backs, whereas we saw Zaza Pachulia have one of his best games as a Maverick last night vs. the Lakers. No telling who the Mavs will actually trot out tonight -- they are, of course, on the second night of a back-to-back as well, and how minutes are being managed for the good guys aren't exactly crystal clear. If the Mavs can keep up their rebounding efforts we saw last night and make a few more of those easy looks than they did last night, they should have a shot to be competitive against an also shorthanded and tired Rockets team.

How to watch?

Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. Central on Fox Sports Southwest, or as always, you can watch via League Pass.