They say everything is bigger in Texas. And a first round matchup between these two teams could be huge.
With a possibility that these two teams end up as the four and five seeds in the Western Conference, someone has to go home in the first round.
So we ask Who Sucks Less? The Houston Rockets or the Dallas Mavericks.
The Houston Rockets have had big expectations going into every season for the last four years. They have continued to reinvent themselves and their roster.
Their addition of Russell Westbrook in the offseason was definitely a polarizing move to say the least. Questions to whether or not him and James Harden could make it work as two ball-dominant superstars are still being asked.
And while they were hoping they could run more pick and roll with Clint Capela, it simply just didn't work out. They decided to double-down, scratch that, they tripled-down, actually wait, they quadruple-downed on their choice to play small ball. They traded Clint Capela for Robert Covington and essentially decided they were just going to run PJ Tucker out there at the "Center" position.
I put "Center" in quotes because the traditional idea of what a lineup looks like has completely changed. Even with teams that have big centers, they are still pretty useless in today's game if they can't shoot jump shots.
Kobe had a quote once that said positions were only created so the casual fan could follow along anyway.
The Rockets are currently 5th in the Western Conference at 35-20 and have posted one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Looking at those numbers, it's hard to say that what they've built isn't working. The only thing you can say is that you don't like watching their style of play. Five guys spread out wide and they basically run two plays. One is isolation with either Russ or Harden, and the other play is off-ball screens in an attempt to find an open three point shooter.
And when their shots aren't falling, they put their heads down, drive to the basket, and then shoot a million free throws. If someone has a stat for most real time spent at the free throw line, please send that our way. I'd love to see those numbers.
It is yet to be seen whether or not this small ball style will be successful in the playoffs. James Harden has had his own struggles in the playoffs, while Russ has been bounced from the first round everytime since Durant left him.
These guys can shoot the hell out of the ball, but can they win it all?
The Dallas Mavericks didn't have quite the same expectations heading into this season. This was supposed to be a season where they created some hype and built something for the future. But Luka Doncic has been even better than advertised, and is already in the conversation for MVP-candidacy.
Mark Cuban did what he had to do to get Doncic the sidekick he needed to help this team improve when he traded for Kristaps Porzingis. I have no idea what the New York Knicks were doing, but they didn't get shit for a guy who has to potential to return to his All-Star form in the near future.
Kristaps has been good, not great, but luckily they haven't needed him to be. Rick Carlisle is showing why he continues to be one of the smartest basketball minds in the league.
This roster doesn't wow you with talent, but from top to bottom they are full of guys who just don't suck. And when you have a bunch of dudes who don't suck, you can be good under the right leadership. And Doncic has fit perfectly in that role.
They lead the league in so many offensive categories, and it would be easy to say that it's because of Luka and Kristaps. But there have been a couple of stretches where they have been without one or the other or both.
Their depth of shooters and underappreciated ball handlers has made their offense flow whether Luka has been on the floor or not. Guys like Jalen Brunson and JJ Barea are your cookie-cutter point guards. Guys who can get the ball moving when the going gets tough.
And they're not just all shooting. Maxi Kleber and Willie Cauley-Stein give them the size they need to give their potent offense second-chance points.
But if they need a bucket in the clutch, they can let Luka go to work or he can find a shooter in Seth Curry, Delon Wright, Dorian Finney-Smith, Justin Jackson, or Tim Hardaway Jr.
Going into this article, I assumed that I would side with the Houston Rockets simply because of their experience and the fact that they have the superstar power.
But when I look at the rosters from top to bottom, it makes it hard to choose. Let's assume they face each other in the first round for just a second.
Luka and Harden essentially will cancel each other out because their games are eerily similar. The Mavericks get the edge in size because not only do they have Kristaps who can go to work in the post, but they have other big men who can give them rebounds in the clutch.
From an aesthetically pleasing perspective, the Mavericks also get the edge because they whip the ball around like it's a hot potato. And much of that has to do with their coaching advantage as well.
But the outlier that would be the difference is Russell Westbrook. This guy plays like his hair is on fire, and he doesn't give a damn how big his opponent is, he will "Put that shit right into his chest."
The Mavericks would have no answers for a guy who has changed his game for the better in this new system he's in. Especially if it came down to a free throw shooting contest. I don't think I have ever seen a guy who is more clutch from the line than Russ.
So if we're asking Who Sucks Less, we're going to have to go with the Houston Rockets.
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