Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz Preview & Prediction

The Houston Rockets

Projected Starting Lineups

Cleveland Cavaliers (40-25)

G Kyrie Irving – 21.4 ppg, 5.2 apg

G J.R. Smith – 12.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg

F LeBron James – 26.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 7.3 apg

F Kevin Love – 16.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg

C Timofey Mozgov– 10.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg

Dallas Mavericks (41-24)

G Rajon Rondo –9.4 ppg, 6.2 apg

G Monta Ellis – 19.2 ppg, 4.3 apg

F Chandler Parsons – 15.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg

F Dirk Nowitzki – 17.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg

C Tyson Chandler – 10.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg

What to watch for:

How will Rajon Rondo play?

The Mavericks have been largely inconsistent since trading for Rondo. When he’s not clicking with the rest of the team, Dallas can be beaten by almost anyone. However, when he’s focused and playing team basketball, they’ll beat everybody. I expect him to step up to meet the challenge of facing Kyrie Irving and play well.

Kevin Love vs. Dirk Nowitzki

Aside from the point guard battle, this matchup will largely determines who wins this game. The Mavericks don’t have anyone that can stop LeBron James one-on-one, so it’s important for Nowitzki to outplay love to balance that out. Love is not a great defender, so Nowitzki should have a field day.

Prediction: Mavs win 109-105

Dallas desperately needs a big win, and I think they’ll come out playing inspired basketball. They’ll hold a slim advantage for most of the game before holding on for the narrow victory.

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