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Dallas Mavs GAMEDAY 142 Days In The Making: Excitement 'Going Up Levels'

The Houston Rockets sit 1.5 games ahead of the Mavs, making a victory tonight uber-important for Dallas’ future.

It has been 142 days since the Dallas Mavericks played a basketball game due to the COVID-19 NBA hiatus…. That streak ends tonight vs. in-state foe Houston Rockets.

The seventh-seeded Mavs have a chance to improve their seed in the Western Conference (therefore likely avoiding the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs). Dallas needs only two wins of the eight seeding games to clinch a playoff berth but could move up with some hard-fought wins.

The Rockets sit 1.5 games ahead of the Mavs, making a victory tonight uber-important for Dallas’ future opportunity to advance and gain playoff experience.

After the four-month hiatus, Dallas’ offense is still imposing and its defense is still a question mark.

THE MATCHUP: Dallas and Houston split the regular season games, 1-1. The Mavs will need to find a way to defend the Rockets from beyond the arc, Houston shoots more threes than any team in the NBA. Also, watch out for James Harden on a mission, who is currently leading the NBA in scoring at 34.4 points per game.

OFFENSIVE CHEMISTRY: Mavs stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have never played in an NBA playoff game. But they've been highly effective together, as since Jan. 1, they have produced an offensive rating of 116.7 while sharing the floor.

[RELATED: Mavs "Fuego" Pool Day in Orlando]

WILL THE DONCIC DOMINATION CONTINUE?

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The reigning Rookie of the Year, Luka Doncis has recorded a league-high 14 triple-doubles in 2019-20, totaling 22 for his career.

CURRY FROM DEEP: Steph Curry is shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range for his career, ranking second in NBA history behind only Steve Kerr. Before the hiatus Curry couldn’t be stopped, shooting 54.8 percent from from beyond the arc in his last 15 games.

QUOTABLE: "We're a talented team," Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis said, " Now is time for the real deal… for the regular-season games and then the playoffs. So our excitement level is going to go a few levels up now. I think we're ready to go."

INJURY REPORT: Jalen Brunson (right shoulder surgery) is out/NWT; Willie Cauley-Stein (personal reasons) is out/NWT; Courtney Lee (left calf injury) is out; Dwight Powell (right Achilles surgery) is out.

Game Time: 8 p.m. CT

Location: Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Southwest/ESPN, ESPN 103.3 FM, Univision 1270 AM

Records: Mavericks (40-27, 7th in the West), Rockets (40-24, 6th in the West)