ROCKETS (40-24) AT MAVS (40-27)
Time: 8 p.m.
Place: The Arena, Orlando
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavs: Finally, the Mavs will get to restart the NBA season tonight and play their first game since the 113-97 victory over Denver at American Airlines Center back on March 11 . . . The Mavs will be the home team. That means their signage and the “faces” of their virtual fans will be inside the arena . . . This is a crucial game for seeding for the Mavs, who are seventh in the Western Conference. Just in front of the Mavs are the Rockets and Oklahoma City, who each stand one-and-a-half games ahead of the Mavs . . . The majority of the Mavs’ production comes from the dynamic duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. So far this season Doncic and Porzingis have joined Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only players to register 30 points and 10 rebounds in three consecutive games. Doncic is sixth in the NBA is scoring (28.7), 19th in rebounding (9.3), fourth in assists (8.7) and first in triple-doubles (14). Meanwhile, Porzingis is averaging 19.2 ppg and 9.5 rpg and is fifth in the league in blocks with 2.1 per contest . . . Seth Curry has proven to be one of the greatest shooters in the game. He currently has a career shooting percentage from 3-point range of 44.3 percent, which is second all-time in NBA history, trailing only Steve Kerr. In the last 15 games Curry is shooting a remarkable 54.8 percent from downtown . . . Tim Hardaway Jr. is averaging 15.8 ppg and is shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc . . . Coach Rick Carlisle said the Mavs will have some discussions today on how they will address their plan before, during or after the national anthem tonight in regards to racial justice and equality. “I expect whatever we do we’ll do together,” Carlisle said. “We’ll look forward to (today) and we’ll definitely have a plan.”.. . . The Mavs will be without center Dwight Powell (right Achilles tendon surgery), guard Jalen Brunson (right shoulder surgery) and center Willie Cauley-Stein, who decided not to enter the bubble in Orlando because his daughter was born on July 6 . . . Carlisle said unless there is an issue with another player, guard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be on the inactive list tonight. “We still have not gotten him enough live practice time,” Carlisle said. He also said Kidd-Gilchrist would be working today on his shooting and conditioning.
About the Rockets: Primarily behind the play of James Harden, the Rockets are 17-6 in their last 23 meetings against the Mavs . . . Harden leads the NBA in scoring with 34.4 ppg, and in 3-pointers made with 4.4 per contest. In addition, he is ninth in assists with 7.4 per game, and sixth in steals with 1.7 per outing. . .Harden’s backcourt sidekick, Russell Westbrook, also is a pretty tough cover for any defense to handle. Westbrook is seventh in the league in scoring (27.5), 21st in rebounding (8.0), 12th in assists (7.0) and 10th in steals (1.7). . .Mavs guard J.J. Barea said of Harden and Westbrook: “Especially in a game like (tonight), they’re going to come out super aggressive, extra aggressive. James Harden, if not the best, is one of the best guards in the league, so he’s going to create all of the attention. And Westbrook — a competitor — he’s never going to stop playing hard. So we’ve got our hands full.” . . . The Rockets have basically gone to a small-ball lineup with 6-5 P.J. Tucker frequently being their center. That lineup is the backbone of a Rockets’ team that spends much of its time shooting from behind the 3-point line. The Rockets, in fact, lead the NBA in 3-pointers attempted at 44.3 per game, while the Mavs are second at 41.5 per outing. Overall, the Rockets are second in the league in scoring with 118.1 ppg and are shooting 34.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. . .Defensively, the Rockets are allowing 114.4 ppg. . .The Rockets will be without one of their best players after guard Eric Gordon suffered a left ankle injury during Tuesday’s scrimmage . Gordon, who is third on the team in scoring with 14.5 ppg, could be sidelined from two-to-three weeks . . . The Rockets and Mavs have played each other twice this season, and both games took place in Houston. Back on Nov. 24, the Mavs defeated he Rockets, 137-123. And on Jan. 31, the Rockets beat the Mavs, 128-121. Luka Doncic missed the game the Mavs lost with a right ankle sprain. And in the Mavs’ win over Houston, Doncic had 41 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.