Mavs-Kings Preview: Rondo Returns to Dallas

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
 Following a pair of losses, the Dallas Mavericks (19-15) are back on the court at the American Airlines Center tonight against the Sacramento Kings (14-20), seeking their first win of 2016. It will be the much-anticipated return for Rondo in Dallas since he signed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with Sacramento this offseason.

Remember when the Mavs traded for Rondo and we all thought the Mavs were instantly a championship contender? How could we forget? After the 2014-15 season began with high hopes and promise when the Mavs shot out of the gate with the most efficient offense in the NBA, Mark Cuban decided the Mavs were good, but not good enough.

Despite the team’s 23-12 record to begin the season, they traded starting point guard Jameer Nelson, reserves Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Rajon Rondo and rookie Dwight Powell. Immediately following the trade, Sportsbook.com updated the Mavs championship odds, from 16-1 to 8-1. On paper, the Mavs looked like something built from a video game, logging one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.

But on the court things were different story and Rondo struggled to fit into the Mavs offense. He and head coach Rick Carlisle butted heads and were never able to make their relationship work. Rondo eventually quit on the  team, losing out on his share of the playoff earnings, and the Mavs fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Rockets.

A season later, Rondo is with Sacramento, now armed with a team that includes DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and head coach George Karl. While many expected the conflicting egos to be a complete disaster, the Kings have actually been a solid team thus far this season, currently sitting ninth in the Western Conference. After one of the worst seasons of his career, Rondo has enjoyed a bounce back year. He leads the league in assists with 11.6 per game, while quarterbacking the Kings to 105.6 points per contest, good enough for 3rd in the NBA.

“I haven’t thought twice about it,” Rondo said regarding his unceremonious return to Dallas for the first time.

In the November meeting between the two clubs in Sacramento, the Kings defeated the Mavs 112-98 behind 31 points from Cousins. Rondo finished the game with 21 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Before dropping the past two games, the Mavs were enjoying a four-game winning streak, scoring 113.5 points per contest, while shooting 49 percent from the field. During their two-game losing streak, the Mavs are shooting just 40 percent, scoring just 90 points per game.

Dallas looks to get back on track tonight, before heading to New Orleans tomorrow for a rematch against Anthony Davis the Pelicans on the second night of a back-to-back.

Injuries:

Mavs: Devin Harris (back strain) is probable; Deron Williams (left hamstring tightness) is questionable.

Kings: Omri Casspi (upper back soreness); Dukje Dukan (right tibial bone contusion) is out; Eric Moreland (left foot) is out.

How to Watch:

Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm CST and will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest. You can also listen to the game live on 103.3 FM ESPN

 

 

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