Improved defensive play has the Dallas Mavericks riding a five-game winning streak.
The Mavericks will try to add to that run by containing the Houston Rockets on Monday night at home.
Thanks largely to limiting opponents to 92.7 points per game, the Mavericks (12-4) have won five in a row - the latest two of those victories coming against two of the league’s highest-profile clubs.
One night after ending San Antonio’s 12-game win streak with a 103-94 victory, Dallas returned home and beat Miami 106-95 on Saturday night.
“To go through and win all five like this, you have to be extremely energetic, you have to be deep, you have to have good guys and good players,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “You have to have a high energy level and a high spirit and we sustained that this week.”
The Mavericks gave up at least 22 points to each member of the Heat’s All-Star trio of LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) but allowed no other Miami player to reach double figures. Their defense will face another tough test Monday in the form of a Houston team averaging 104.4 points.
The Rockets (5-11) are giving up an average of 106.7, but have held their last two opponents under the century mark. They held on for a 99-98 home victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
“It’s just a great win,” said coach Rick Adelman, whose team has won two of three since a four-game slide. “It was a very good team we played. They were going to attack and keep coming at us but we did enough to win and that’s what we wanted. We wanted our guys to play hard for 48 minutes and that’s what they did.”
Adelman’s club has dropped its last three road games to fall to 2-7 away from home on the season. The Rockets will need to overcome that trend if they are to beat the Mavericks in three straight meetings for the first time since a five-game run in this series Nov. 23, 1999-Dec. 30, 2000.
These clubs haven’t faced each other since last December, when the Rockets posted a 116-108 overtime victory in Dallas and a 97-94 win at home. Aaron Brooks(notes) totaled 55 points in those matchups, but has missed Houston’s last 11 games due to an ankle injury and is unlikely to play Monday.
With a win Monday, the Mavericks will have their best record through 17 games since opening 16-1 in 2002-03.