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3 things to watch for as the Mavs host the Suns

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It’s the battle of the Western Conference cellar dwellars.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

After a head scratching loss the the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks (8-22) are looking to bounce back against the Phoenix Suns (10-21) who are coming off a big win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It’s the first matchup between these two teams, but both sides could be without the services of exciting young players. For the Suns, up-and-coming guard Devin Booker will be out while he’s nursing a groin injury that has had him sidelined for a handful of games now. For the Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. is currently listed as questionable.

Here’s what to watch for as the Mavs look for win number nine.

The return of DSJ?

The Mavericks’ prized rookie has missed the past five games with a left hip strain. The team has dropped the past four of the five games. Yogi Ferrell slid into the starting lineup and filled in admirably. In the past five games he averaged 12 points, five rebounds and four assists while shooting 44 percent from deep. Ferrell arguably had the best game of his season Saturday against the Spurs, in which he scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and tallied six assists. With Ferrell playing well and J.J. Barea and Devin Harris turning back the clock, don’t be surprised if Smith Jr. is worked back in slowly in an attempt to not aggravate his injury.

Keep the Suns off the offensive glass

Coming into tonight, the Suns have a top-ten offensive rebounding percentage at 24.4 percent. Additionally, they are grabbing 11.3 offensive rebounds per game, good for fourth most in the NBA. Led by Alex Len and Tyson Chandler, the Suns are long and athletic on the front line and pose a huge challenge for the Mavericks’ big men. It will be a team effort to keep the Suns off the glass. Not only will Dirk Nowitzki and Maxi Kleber have their hands full, Phoenix’s wings are capable rebounders as well. After struggling to rebound against the Spurs, the Mavericks have to correct this to get back into the win column.

The Mavs should be able to score plenty

The Suns are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Owners of a 109.1 defensive rating (worst in the NBA), the Suns have had trouble stopping everyone. One of Phoenix’s biggest weaknesses is the number of second-chance points they give up. At 14.5 opponent second-chance points per game, the Suns rank dead last in limiting the other team’s scoring chances. They also give up nearly 49 paint points per game, which is third worst in the NBA. This should be a simple strategy for the Mavericks—just score a lot of points. As long as they don’t beat themselves, a win is well within reach.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. and can be watched on FSSW or NBA League Pass.