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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks take on the Rockets

After two blowouts, Dallas looks to prove they can light up the scoreboard against good teams too.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are 10-5, winners of four straight, and are headed for a Sunday afternoon clash against the 11-5 Houston Rockets, losers of their last two. Both teams come into this game averaging exactly 117.9 points per game, with Houston giving up roughly 4.5 points per game more than the Maverick do on the other end.

Both teams were in action Friday night, with Dallas beating a very bad Cleveland Cavaliers team by 42 points, and Houston falling to a very good LA Clippers team by three.

By record, these are two of the top 10 teams in the NBA. By points per game, they’re two of the top four. Expect a gun show.

Here’s a few things to keep an eye on:

Three-point shooting, again

Prior to the Spurs game less than a week ago, I wrote “Can the Mavericks make a damn three-point shot?” At the time the Mavericks had been sub-30 percent over their previous five games. But since I wrote that? They’ve made 59 threes on 51 percent shooting. Flame emoji. If the Mavericks shoot like this they’re damn near unbeatable.

Houston, for the season, is shooting 33.9 percent. Not great. James Harden is shooting 35.2 percent, and Russell Westbrook is at a GHASTLY 22 percent. These are bad numbers, yet, as I said, the Rockets are averaging 117.9 points per game. If Harden has a big night, or Westbrook has a passable one, The Rockets are a tough out for any team.

Luka vs. Harden

Luka Doncic is averaging 29.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game. These are “WHAT!” level stats for a player of any age. He’s scored 65 points in just 54 minutes over his last two games. Gross. Disgusting. He should apologize for being so filthy.

But then we have James Harden who, if you’ll recall from like seven lines ago is not shooting up to his standards this season, is averaging 38.3 points per game. Imagine it; you add Russell Westbrook to your backcourt and then go on to put up nearly 40 every night. The audacity! Whatever they’re feeding this man at those strip club buffets is working.

Luka received some Harden comparisons during his rookie year, and there’s definitely something there. They overlap in some of their good traits and in some of their bad habits. I doubt we’ll see a whole lot of them guarding each other on Sunday, but they’re the guys who get the headlines. We’ll see who wins the duel.

Tim Hardaway Jr: the third guy

Here’s a quote from the preview piece I wrote on Hardaway during the preseason:

…playing with Luka Doncic could do wonders for Hardaway’s game. Play fast, play hard, be ready to catch the ball, don’t try to be Jimmy Butler, take good shots, and play a little bit of defense. I am still, maybe naively, of the belief that Tim Hardaway Jr. can be the third guy the Mavericks will need this season.

SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT, ME. At least for the past two games, anyway. With Seth Curry out nursing an illness and an ankle issue, Hardaway has stepped into a starting role and filled it admirably. Against Golden State and Cleveland (bad teams, I know) Hardaway has played 40 minutes, and scored 36 points on 12/15 shooting, and 8/9 from three. Can these numbers hold up? No, I’m sure they can’t. But even medium-good play from THJ would help a lot.

How to watch

Tip-off is set for 2:30 CT, and can be watched on FSSW, or NBA League Pass, which is a mediocre product that I pay for anyway because I’m a chump.