There are a few story lines here as Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons had some hard feelings when leaving Rockets did not match his contract offer in restricted free agency. There has also been rumored to be tension between ownership of both teams. The Rockets won the season series 3-1 and will be looking to justify their 2 seed in the West.

MATCHUPS

POINT GUARD- Rajon Rondo vs. Jason Terry
Due to the injury to Patrick Beverly Terry has assumed the role as strating point guard with another veteran (Pablo Prigioni) playing the backup minutes. James Harden has the ball in his hands most of the time so Terry gets to play off the ball far more often than a traditional point guard. Rondo has clashed with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on several occasions and is still adjusting to a system that doesn’t play into his skill set. He does have the ability to dominate a series and the Rockets are in trouble if he can find a way to play his game in conjunction with his coaches wishes.
ADVANTAGE- Mavericks

Shooting Guard- Monta Ellis vs. James Harden
After a really strong season, Ellis has struggled down the stretch but has shown his a fully capable scorer who can put the ball in the basket in bunches. His size leads to some mismatches on the defensive end. Harden will either be the MVP of the NBA or the runner up. He has displayed all of his offensive skill sets that he has shown throughout his career combined with a new willingness to play defense. He is as good a player as there is in the league.

SMALL FORWARD- Chandler Parsons vs. Trevor Ariza
Ariza took Parsons place in the Rockets starting lineup at about half of the price. He is a fantastic and versatile defender who makes their team defense exponentially better. He shoots a lot of three pointers and is capable of hitting them in bunches. Parsons has had a strong season that started and ended with him being injured. He will need to be healthy and productive for the Mavericks to have a chance.
ADVANTAGE- Mavericks

POWER FORWARD- Dirk Nowitzki vs. Donatas Motiejunas
Motiejunas has remained in the starting lineup after the return of Dwight Howard and is expected to start in the playoffs. This position is the teams deepest with veteran Josh Howard and Terrence Jones backing him up. Nowitzki isn’t the player he once was but is still good for scoring, especially in clutch situations.
ADVANTAGE- Mavericks

CENTER- Tyson Chandler vs. Dwight Howard
Chandler is a good help defender and who scores strictly off of lob passes and dunks. He fits well in the Mavericks system and is a team leader. Howard missed a lot of the season due to injury and will need to increase his scoring if the team wants to get out of the first round.
ADVANTAGE – HOUSTON

BENCH-
Neither team is particularly deep. The Rockets have a player like Smith who is a versatile frontcourt player and the Mavericks have the potential of inside scoring with Amare Stoutemire.
ADVANTAGE- EVEN

PICK: Take the Mavericks in 6 Games