By Michael Knight | Contributor
The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets renew their rivalry this week as the two teams face off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Houston.
The two opponents came into the season with very different expectations. The Mavericks were picked to finish 13th in the Western Conference by ESPN and Sports Illustrated as they continue to rebuild. The Rockets, on the other hand, came into the season picked second in the Western Conference by ESPN after a 4-3 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last year.
The Rockets haven’t quite lived up to those expectations yet. They started the season just 1-5, though they have been winning a bit more in the month of November, now sitting at 9-9.
Dallas, on the other hand, is flirting with a .500 record and won games against top-tier teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics. Rookie guard Luka Doncic has had a huge impact so far, averaging 19 points per game.
Edgewood junior and Mavericks fan Canyon Jayroe said the team has looked better than expected to start the season.
“As a Mavs fan, I was hopeful of a good start, and having early injuries from Harrison Barnes and Dirk [Nowitzki], I wasn’t sure how the season would start,” Jayroe said. “It’s been better than expected and I could see us possibly catching a seven or eight seed come playoff time if we reach our full potential.”
This rivalry is one that dates back to 1980. Recently, however, the Mavericks haven’t been as competitive as the Rockets.
Free agency has added an element to the rivalry, as they often pursue the same players to add to their teams. Two recent examples include Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons.
The Rockets signed Howard in 2013 after both teams pursued him heavily. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban then famously stated that Howard made a “mistake in judgment” when he chose Houston over Dallas.
The Mavericks got a bit of revenge the next offseason, though, when Chandler Parsons, then a Rocket and key role player on the team, became a free agent. The Mavericks put the Rockets in a predicament by offering Parsons much more money than the Rockets could afford to pay. They ended up letting him sign with Dallas.
Tevin Williams, editor for Rockets-based website Space City Scoop, said the two teams are consistently competitive because of their management.
“[Rockets general manager] Daryl Morey and [Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban are the faces of their respective teams’ front offices and they have both played a big role in assembling some of the most talented teams in the last decade,” Williams said. “Mark Cuban was the first to put together a championship team, but Daryl Morey’s trades for James Harden and Chris Paul have rocketed Houston’s success in recent years.”
Historically, the Rockets have an edge in wins against the Mavericks in the regular season. They currently lead the all-time series 94-81. The Mavericks lead the postseason series 8-7.