In a press conference after the Mavericks' final regular season game, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle joked that he was sure owner Mark Cuban would be quiet in this series. But that's not the Cuban way.
"There's no more predictable team than the Rockets," Cuban told Kirk Goldsberry. "You know exactly what they're gonna do. 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."
Cuban likely sees this as a compliment to Harden, rather than an insult to the Rockets. It's unlikely they'll see it that way, though, not considering the two team's history.
Even though they haven't faced each other in the playoffs since 2005, the Rockets and Mavericks have quickly become one of the NBA's best rivalries. Last summer, the Mavericks 'stole' Chandler Parsons from Houston with a loaded contract that the Rockets chose not to match. The whole deal was capped off with Parsons signing the offer sheet with Cuban in a Florida nightclub.
The Rockets also start two players with Maverick ties -- Jason Terry, who played in Dallas eight seasons and won a championship, and Dwight Howard, who Cuban aggressively pursued before losing out to Houston.
We know Houston general manager Daryl Morey isn't a soft-spoken man, either. This has real potential to escalate into a war of words, while the players duke it out on the court. Dallas plays Game 1 against the Rockets on Saturday.