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3 steps to beating the Houston Rockets

The Mavs look for their first win of the season as they host the Rockets in the home opener.

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks enter their home opener at 0-1. They may have lost to the Indiana Pacers in the first game of the year, but it was a fun game with a couple of bright spots.

Now, Dallas welcomes the Houston Rockets to American Airlines Center for the first home game of the season.

This is a bit of a different Houston team than the last few years. Mike D’Antoni is running the show as the Rockets’ head coach. Dwight Howard is in Atlanta and Clint Capela is Houston’s full time starting center. Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene were the team’s big offseason additions. Oh, and they still have James Harden, who, along with the rest of the Rockets, are looking for a bounce back season after last year’s dumpster fire.

So, how do the Mavs beat them?

Outscore them

The Mavs have some issues to iron out defensively, to say the least. Dallas allowed Indiana to shoot 50.5 percent from the field 52.6 percent from three. Not great from a team that was supposed to be decent on that end of the floor.

The Rockets aren’t exactly the team you want to face when you’re trying to fix defensive issues. We all know what D’Antoni’s reputation as a coach is, and it was on full display in their opener against the Lakers.

Houston lost, but they put up 114 points on 51.2 percent shooting. With Patrick Beverley out, James Harden is essentially running point for the Rockets. He went for 34 points and 17 assists against the Lakers. Of course, the Lakers put up 120 points and won the game behind excellent shooting.

The Mavs, meanwhile, got back into their game against Indiana because of their shooting. Dallas made 18 of 48 3-pointers (!!!) including some key ones late in the game. Plenty of their misses were open looks as well.

Of course, asking Deron Williams and J.J. Barea to be flamethrowers on a nightly basis isn’t sustainable, but they’re going to have to do that again to keep up with Houston. If you like defense, this might not be the game for you.

Get Wes going

On paper, Wesley Matthews wasn’t great on Wednesday. He had 13 points, but was 3 of 16 from the field and 2 of 10 from three, many of which were good looks. He did some good things defensively, but it wasn’t the best start to Matthews’ season overall.

He’s going to need to be good defensively with Harden in town, but I hope the Mavericks make an effort to get him going offensively early.

Running a play here or there in the first quarter for Wes to knock down an open three would be great for the Mavs and for him. He looked good athletically against Indiana, but they really need him to knock down those open threes.

More good bench play

Barea was clearly the star of the Mavs’ bench on Wednesday with 22 points. It’s hard to expect Barea to explode like that on nightly basis, but he’s a key cog to the team as a whole, and the unquestioned leader of the bench.

That bench is going to have to play well against Houston. Justin Anderson had seven points and five rebounds in the opener, and I personally thought we didn’t get enough of him.

Seth Curry had seven points and was playing well early in the fourth quarter until he fouled out. Dwight Powell had no points, but seven rebounds, which isn’t good enough.

I’d like to see a more balanced effort from the bench against the Rockets. Barea is the Mavs’ sixth man, but he’s not going to score 20 a night. I also found it interesting that Salah Mejri was a DNP-CD on Wednesday, especially given how Myles Turner was tormenting Dallas regularly. It’d be nice to see him get some burn.

How to watch

As usual, you can catch this game on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CST.