The Houston Rockets currently hold a 2-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks, and they will look to continue overpowering the Mavericks in Dallas.
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A sweep appears to be on the horizon as just about everything has gone wrong for the Mavericks, and their trade for point guard Rajon Rondo has blown up in their face.
The Boston Celtics made themselves look smart for trading the point guard as they finished the regular season strongly and made the playoffs as a 7th seed.
It also does not help matters that Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons will miss the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury that has hindered him since the end of the regular season.
Rondo will also be out for the time being since he is nursing a back injury. He was benched by head coach Rick Carlisle in Game 2 after committing four fouls and being outplayed by other guards, according to Carlisle.
The Mavericks point guard has been benched several times before in his Dallas stint, and he was even suspended for one game after being involved in a heated shouting match with Carlisle.
Carlisle has made it clear that he does not care for Rondo, and he even flat-out said that the Mavericks will not bring him back in free agency.
J.J. Barea will likely be the Mavericks’ starting point guard moving forward, but they may decide to keep him in his featured bench role while giving Devin Harris the starting job.
Harris will be returning from a toe injury and is probable to play.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are flying high as they appear to be in position to play the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-San Antonio Spurs series.
Shooting guard and MVP candidate James Harden had a rough shooting performance in Game 2 as he shot 5-for-17, but he made up for it at the free-throw line and scored 24 points.
Center Dwight Howard had a fantastic performance as he scored 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 12 rebounds.
Shooting guard Corey Brewer stepped up for the Rockets in 29 minutes off the bench as he scored 15 points.
Starting forwards Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones were quiet in Game 2 after having solid series opening performances. They combined for nine points.
They will look to contribute more in scoring and take the load of Harden and Howard’s shoulders.
For the Mavericks, shooting guard Monta Ellis was the only player who showed up as he scored 23 points.
Power forward Dirk Nowitzki looked nothing like the perennial All-Star he has been throughout his career. He shot 3-for-14 from the field and was held to 10 points.
The Mavericks collectively shot 37.1 percent from the field, and their defense continued to be a major liability.
Although the Rockets have their own flaws on defense, their offense has been too much for the Mavericks as they outmatch them in talent with an MVP frontrunner and one of the league’s best centers.
However, the Mavericks will be back home, and Rondo has proven to be detrimental to the team’s chemistry as they finished cold after acquiring him.
Although the Rockets will ultimately win the series, look for the Mavericks to steal a win at home as the Mavericks’ chemistry improves without Rondo.
Prediction: Mavericks 101, Rockets 97