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3 things to watch as the Mavericks battle with the Rockets in Houston

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The Mavs have been run off the floor in their first two games against the Rockets. Can they flip the script tonight?

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Fresh off a thrilling, high-scoring home win against the Los Angeles Lakers last night, the Dallas Mavericks won’t have much time to enjoy it. They’ll be back in action tonight, as they travel down I-45 to take on the Houston Rockets on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rockets are arguably the the second best team in the NBA, behind the Golden State Warriors, so this will be an extremely tough challenge for the Mavs. The Rockets, so far, lead the season series with the Mavs, 2-0, winning by an average of nearly 12 points per game.

Here are 3 things to watch tonight.

Mavs need to keep up the momentum offensively

Against the Lakers last night, the Mavs put up a season-high 130 points. Anything close to that total would be a welcome sight against the Rockets. In the first two meetings between these teams this season, the Mavs are only averaging 94 points per game and haven't cracked the 100 mark yet. Against a team that shoots a million threes on a nightly basis, a lot more scoring will be needed on the Mavs’ end if they hope to come out of Houston with a win.

McBuckets follow-up to his impressive debut

In Doug McDermott’s first game as a Maverick, he was very active, putting up 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 21 minutes played. That’s pretty solid for a guy that was fresh off his plane from New York. As he gets more familiar with Rick Carlisle’s playbook, McDermott should continue to improve. It’s really nice to have another small forward on the team who can shoot threes and create for others as well.

I know it’s really early, but in that small sample size we got from McDermott against the Lakers, he really looked like pre-injury Chandler Parsons out there. If he can keep this up for the rest of the season, the Mavs may have found themselves another fairly young, tall, serviceable role player going forward.

Wesley Matthews shot the lights out last time he played the Rockets

In the Mavs last meeting with the Rockets (a 104-97 loss that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates), Matthews did his best to keep his team in the game. He ended that game with a season-high 29 points to go with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Matthews was 10-of-18 from the field and 7-of-14 from deep.

I don’t expect Matthews to have the same amount of success this time around, especially on the second night of a back-to-back, but don’t count him out, because no one expected his offensive outburst on ESPN a few weeks ago either.

How to watch

The Mavs and Rockets will tipoff in the Toyota Center at 6:00 p.m. central time. The game can be watched on FSSW and NBA TV.

[Editor’s note: This preview was written before the news this morning that Dirk, J.J. Barea and Wesley Matthews would not make the trip to Houston]