Wednesday night features the Mavericks (2-1) against the Phoenix Suns (1-1) in game four of their eight game preseason schedule. Following a 123-104 home win against Houston Monday, Dallas looks to continue building on-court rapport despite a number of lingering off-court personnel issues.
The Suns continue the preseason after an eventful summer of roster changes. The 2012 NBA Draft saw the Suns take former UNC Guard Kendall Marshall with the 13th pick. The onset of free agency saw the Suns trade franchise cornerstone and former Maverick Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers for future draft considerations. The resulting salary cap space allowed the Suns to sign Goran Dragic away from Houston, take a chance on mercurial forward Michael Beasley and claim former Houston forward Luis Scola off of waivers. The squad brings back center Marcin Gortat, G/F Jared Dudley, guard Shannon Brown, and forward Markieff Morris. Channing Frye will miss the season due to a dilated cardiomyopathy
The potential offensive firepower from the Suns front court should be interesting against a Dallas defense that is still learning its helpside rotations. Marcin Gortat is coming off of a career year posting averages of 15.4 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 55% from the field. Pairing Gortat with the crafty veteran Scola, who averaged 15.5 points per game on 49% shooting, could potentially give Dallas fits in the paint. While he is not Steve Nash, Dragic is a very capable replacement. Dragic improved his averages each month last season. In December and January he averaged 8 points and 3.8 assists; for the month of April he averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 assists per game.
Dallas heads into Wednesday night's game with some frustrating personnel issues. Dirk's knee has been covered at length, and he is unlikely to play. Rodrigue Beaubois' status is questionable at best; Wednesday will make 11 days since his sprain against Berlin, with little update from the team. While Delonte West's suspension has been lifted, it is unclear as of this writing whether or not he will be allowed to play against Phoenix.
Mavs fans can look forward to the steady play from certain players. Darren Collison has averaged 12 points and a team leading 7 assists, while shooting 54% from the field and posting a healthy 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Chris Kaman should continue his strong offensive performance, having averaged 11.6 points on 56% shooting and a team leading 9 rebounds per game thus far in the preseason. Shawn Marion continues to be Mr. Reliable for the Mavericks, picking up where he left off last season averaging 12 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Thirty-five year old Vince Carter has also started well, 11.3 points per game and 45% from beyond the three point line.
Hopefully, we will see the continued improved play from O.J. Mayo, who looked much more at home Monday playing on American soil. While Elton Brand's numbers have been inconsistent in three preseason games, the effort, professionalism, and communication he brings to the court helps raise the level of play in his teammates. He should continue to find his role, particularly if Dirk needs to continue to rest his knee. Fans should also be ready to see sustained doses of Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham, Bernard James, as well as third year pro Dominique Jones and recently acquired swingman Dahntay Jones. Carlisle and his staff will be trying to see how all the pieces fit.
Depending on how the coaching staffs treat this game, fans from both sides could be in for a display of high scoring basketball as both teams try to incorporate new players with interesting pedigrees on offense into their respective systems.