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Mavericks vs. Rockets preview: Third time's the charm?

The Mavericks host the Rockets tonight as they look to shake off last night's tough loss against the Thunder.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks welcome the Rockets to Dallas tonight for their third match-up of the season. The first two have not ended well for Dallas. Perhaps the third time is the charm?

What has Houston done lately?

Houston was an active participate in yesterday's trade deadline mania. You can read our take on what it means for the Western Conference, but the upshot is that things aren't getting any easier out West. The Rockets dumped back-up point guard Isaiah Canaan and the little-used Alexey Shved to acquire underrated ball handler Pablo Prigioni and explosive rookie K.J. McDaniels.

While this doesn't help the Rockets with the issues they're having in the frontcourt with both Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard out or at not-quite-full capacity, it's a big boost to their back-up perimeter players and should help them down the final stretch of the season.

Houston went into the All Star break on a major loss to the Clippers but have generally been coping pretty well with Howard's absence and Jones's recovery, winning seven of their last 10, including a five-point victory against Dallas in late January.

What do the Mavericks need to do to be successful against the Rockets?

The last game against Houston left some of us in pretty deep despair. It was the fourth loss in a row and came courtesy of some truly frustrating (and seemingly unforced) errors by the Mavs and some defense-oriented line-ups (Rondo AND Aminu??) that were ill equipped to score against one of the league's better defenses.

Unfortunately Rondo looked like he was still finding his rhythm last night against the Thunder. Still, tonight will be Houston's first game since the All Star break, and most players look a little rusty following a week off. Hopefully Carlisle will be able to make some adjustments since their last match, and Dallas will be able to take advantage of Houston's post-All Star sluggishness.

What team stat may determine the game?

More specifically, as Rebecca noted last night, the Mavericks have been uncharacteristically struggling with turnovers lately. When they played Houston in January, they gave up 31 points on 24 turnovers. And while that doesn't need much context to sound really, really bad, it only looks worse when combined with the fact that they managed just 16 assists. They should probably try not to do that again.

Game Information

Tipoff is at 7:30pm Central on Fox Sports Southwest.