As the Mavericks and the Rockets get set to face each other in round one of the NBA playoffs, it’s worth reminding that these are two teams that simply don’t like each other.
While Mark Cuban is at the ownership level and Daryl Morey is merely a general manager, the competitive pair have traded plenty of barbs in the past.
Cuban continued to stoke the flames of the rivalry recently, telling Grantland that the Rockets are, in his opinion, too predictable and simply not that good.
In the playoffs, teams with limited game plans get exposed. Conveniently, Cuban believes that Houston, his team’s first-round opponent in this season’s playoffs, is one of the most one-dimensional teams in the playoffs.
“[The biggest difference is] practice time. There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets. You know exactly what they’re gonna do,” he says. “But James Harden is so good. That’s what analytics have begot. Right? Predictability. If you know what the percentages are, in the playoffs, you have time to counter them. Whether you’re good enough to do it is another question. Because they are very talented, and James Harden, I think, is the MVP. Because that’s not a very good team over there.”
Before we get to the obvious shade that was thrown, it’s worth pointing out that Cuban isn’t wrong.
The Rockets play the numbers from a basketball standpoint, and offensively, they look exclusively to create shots in the paint, behind the three-point line, or at the charity stripe — and essentially, nowhere else.
But as Cuban mentions, and as it is in other spots like the NFL where it’s easy for defenses to predict what’s coming, the question becomes whether or not you’re good enough to stop it.
My guess is that Dallas isn’t well-equipped to deal with what Houston does, but it could very well be a long series nonetheless. Cuban’s comments are good for the game’s entertainment value, and that will be even more true if he ends up goading Morey into issuing a public response.