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3 things to watch for as the Dallas Mavericks head on the road against the Phoenix Suns

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A late-night rematch of the season opener.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks have lost two of their last three road games, while the Phoenix Suns have lost ten straight and possess the worst record in the entire NBA. The odds seem to tilt in favor of Dallas Thursday night, but we’ve said that before.

It’s a battle of top rookies for the second straight evening: after Dallas faced off against Trae Young and Atlanta last night, they see DeAndre Ayton and the Suns this evening. The Suns blew Dallas out on opening night 121-100 and the Mavericks are looking to get some revenge and an often elusive road victory.

Here’s what to think about today and watch for tonight as two Western conference squads face off.

The Dallas Mavericks injury report

With Suns super talent Devin Booker ruled out of Thursday’s game already, it’s injury watch for the Mavericks. There will be (UPDATE: he’s playing) rampant speculation of Dirk’s return after coming very close on Wednesday evening. Considering it’s a national game and one of the few remaining in his long career, it would not be shocking to see the old fella finally put on his dancing shoes. Then again, he may not make his debut until Sunday versus the Kings or later in December.

There’s also Dennis Smith Jr. who is still nursing a wrist injury following a dunk and a fall in the final moment against the Blazers. We’ve not gotten a ton of news on this front and it’s concerning just due to the vagueness of the injury.

Then there are both Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea. Matthews is likely to play just because he’s tough and the shoulder injury he suffered against the Hawks was described as minor. Barea will be worth monitoring closely. He sprained it jogging back to the bench, which is perfectly old man of him, but hopping onto a plane can’t be good for swelling. Should he miss time the interesting guard rotation without Smith gets even funkier.

Rebounding

Dallas got beat soundly on the boards against the Suns in the opener and it’s been an easy stat to point to in many of the losses. DeAndre Ayton versus DeAndre Jordan is a great match up of power rebounders, but Dallas will need someone past Luka Doncic to step up on the glass against the Suns.

Pay back the three point parade

In the opener, Phoenix shot a ridiculous 56 percent from behind the arc which paved an obnoxiously easy path to victory. It’s time for Dallas to return the favor, specifically from Harrison Barnes who is shooting flames from his hands these last two games. If Barnes and just one other Mavericks player get hot from outside, the Suns may fold early.

How to watch

This game is on national TV on TNT at 9:30 p.m. Central.