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3 things as the Dallas Mavericks take on the Houston Rockets

An opportunity to wash the bad taste of a bad loss out of their mouth

NBA: Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks head south to take on the Houston Rockets on the final stop of a four-game road trip and their last “tune-up” opportunity before their nationally televised, primetime matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the team having to factor in more injuries than they’ve had to previously this season (Dallas is without Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Josh Green), the starting lineup and rotation has been experimental, but with Luka Doncic still the tip of the spear, the Mavericks should be able to put forth a winning effort against any team.

No free wins

Houston is a young, nothing-to-lose team just trying to build a foundation for the future of their franchise. They’ve lost four in a row and have one of the worst records in the league. But that didn’t stop them from running over Dallas en route to a nine-point victory the last time these teams faced off.

Dallas should not only want to avenge that embarrassing loss, they should also try to build some momentum heading home for their Christmas game. Dallas hasn’t won back-to-back games in over two weeks – an impressive stretch with wins over the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets that made everyone think, “hey, maybe it’s all coming together.” Fast forward to now; it has not. Dallas needs to bear down and get this win against a team they should beat – a feisty squad with recent wins over Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Philadelphia – to prove they have the capacity to right the ship and head to Christmas with their win/loss over .500.

Don’t beat yourself

Houston is not good. And they shouldn’t be, they’re re-building. When they win, it is almost always with some help from their opponent.

In the Rockets’ nine wins, their opponents are shooting just 34.6 percent from the corner and 32.5 percent on above-the-break three-pointers. That tracks with how Dallas dropped the last game between these in-state rivals. The team shot a disgusting 30.4 percent from the field and an even worse 21.8 percent from three. Houston’s going to do what they do on offense, Dallas can’t afford to have another abomination of a shooting game. In theory, it shouldn’t be a difficult ask. The Rockets give up the second-most wide-open looks in the league this season. Just hit shots.

Earn this

With Kleber out indefinitely and Dwight Powell easing back in after missing two games with a thigh contusion, Jason Kidd’s hand has been forced. Christian Wood is the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks. JaVale McGee, the day-one starter this season for some reason, has thankfully continued the trend of coming off the bench if he plays at all.

Still, the voices loudly calling to see Wood in the starting five earlier have little to pound their chests and claim victory over. In the four games he’s started, Dallas has just a single victory – their most recent tilt in Minnesota. A big performance from Wood that contributes to a victory would put to rest some unease regarding the roster and injuries heading into the new year.

He’s had some solid games wasted in a losing effort. Most recently his 26-point, 9-of-18 from the floor outing in a close one-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It would be nice to put it all together for a game.

How to watch

You can watch or stream the game on Bally Sports at 7:00 CST.