Last week, the Phoenix Suns came to town and dealt the Dallas Mavericks their first of three straight losses, sinking the team back into last place in the West after an encouraging start to the New Year.
Dallas will get two shots at revenge, both Thursday night against Phoenix on national television, and then Sunday against the same T-Wolves squad that defeated the Mavericks only a few days ago. This represents what feels like a last chance (as well as a potential nail in the coffin) on the season for a veteran team that has tried very hard to convince themselves that they could get back in the playoff race after a dreadful start ruined by -- among other things — injuries.
If the Mavs continue to falter over these next couple of games, they could be buried come February, as the going gets tougher at the end of the month. The math behind "they’re only X number of games back from the 8th seed" will start to turn into a punchline rather than something vaguely encouraging.
The most notable thing about this matchup between two of the teams with the worst records in the NBA is that the game will be played in Mexico City, as the first of two "home" games for the Suns against the Mavs and Spurs. Of course, Mexico’s most famous basketball player is former Mavs player and current employee, Eduardo Najera.
Will we see Bogut?
The Mavs’ center left Monday’s game against Minnesota and did not return after an apparent hamstring injury. As of this writing I have not heard definitively if Bogut will or won’t play Thursday. In the previous matchup, Tyson Chandler dominated on the glass facing an ineffective Bogut (5 fouls, 0 points, 0 rebounds in 20 minutes) and an overpowered Dirk (team-low plus/minus of -13 in 28 minutes).
The Suns’ starting backcourt combo of Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker torched Dallas for 48 points in last week’s meeting. Throw in 17 points off the bench for third guard Brandon Knight and you get an idea of how the Mavs lost. Bledsoe and Booker are clearly the engine for a young Phoenix squad, as that duo also lit up the defending champion Cavs’ for a combined 59 points in a close loss Sunday.
How to watch
Tip-off starts 10:00 Eastern Time, 9:00 Central, on ESPN.