The Rockets host the Dallas Mavericks in their home-opener tonight at 7:00 p.m. This could be a rough one for the Rockets as their starting lineup experiments have already been altered due to injuries to Patrick Beverley and James Harden. Beverley will miss the next 5 to 8 games with a tear to a muscle in his mid torso. James Harden’s injury is less serious as he is a game-time decision and, if held out, would likely only be a precautionary measure. In a season with 82 games, you have to pick your battles especially at the beginning of the year and even more especially with your star players.
Jeremy Lin will come off the bench for the ailing Beverley.
The Rockets will have to pick up the pace against the much more skilled Mavericks, as they looked offensively flat against the Bobcats. However, the duo of Omer Asik and Dwight Howard looked to be a recipe for defensive domination for the rest of the season. The Rockets’ big men owned the glass racking up 40 rebounds between the two of them (Howard 26, Asik 14). I look forward to seeing Kevin McHale capitalize on this pair playing together.
The Mavericks aren’t looking too shabby themselves coming off of an impressive 118 pt. win against the Atlanta Hawks. Dallas’ newly acquired shooting guard, Monta Ellis, shined with 32 pts. and 8 assists. Dirk Nowitzki added to their offensive success with 24 pts. and 5 assists. Howard will likely cover Nowitzki but that could cause problems for the Rockets if their other players don’t step up on the defensive end.
Despite the fact that it’s early in the season, this will be a good test for the Rockets. Particularly because – as I said before – it will be how this team responds to adversity against good teams that will make or break them this year. I’d say that with Patrick Beverley out and James Harden potentially out, the Rockets will have all the adversity they can handle against a talented Dallas team.
The Rockets have what it takes to beat Dallas, but with the injuries and lineup changes the question becomes can they rise above it? More importantly, I’d like to see them stick it to the Mavericks after their not-so-subtle owner, Mark Cuban, decided to open his mouth this week (nothing new) regarding Dwight Howard signing with the Rockets:
“Obviously, he made a mistake in judgment. Do I blame him? No, that’s what young kids do. They make mistakes in judgment… You choose teams. You choose organizations. You choose coaches. And it’s just not relative to Houston. That’s just the way I look at it, because if he’s that good, then the right organization… gets all the right pieces around you. So it’s not about you’d rather play with this guy. If you’re that good and you have flexibility, the right organization will put the right pieces around you and get you there.”
Bitter much, Mark? You’re talking about the Houston organization as if we don’t have more Championships than yours. As if somehow our organization hasn’t been taking the right steps to improve over the years and build around our players (the acquisition of Harden, Howard, Asik, etc.). Let’s just call this for what it is: sheer jealousy.
I look forward to watching Mark Cuban pay for Dwight’s “mistake” over and over again this season…