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3 things to watch for as the Mavs host the Suns

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The season comes to a close with lottery stakes on the table.

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

After 81 long, grueling games, nearly six months of basketball, 57 losses and 24 wins, the Dallas Mavericks face the Phoenix Suns to close out one of the worst seasons in nearly 20 years.

The Suns have beated the Mavericks four games in a row, and lead the season series 2-0. The last time these two teams faced off, the Suns took care of business by double digits winning 102-88. Josh Jackson matched a career-best 21 points, and Dennis Smith Jr. led Dallas with 17.

It’s the final game of the season for both lottery-bound teams, so here’s what to watch for as the tanks battle.

Who actually plays?

As of this writing, the Mavs will be without Harrison Barnes and Salah Mejri. Smith Jr. and Doug McDermott are both questionable, and the smart money says those two play limited minutes, if any. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kyle Collinsworth, Jalen Jones, Andrew Harrison and Johnathan Motley to all log 30-plus minutes. The Suns will be without Elfrid Payton and Devin Booker, and many other players are listed as questionable. Expect a full on tank off. The NBA might as well have the Mavs Moneyball staff take on the Bright Side of the Sun staff and let the bloggers who have covered these awful teams all season let off some steam.

Speaking of Motley

I’m interested to see how he looks with more playing time. Prior to last game, Motley logged 81 minutes, scored 40 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in two games combined. But Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers, the undrafted rookie played only 16 minutes and wasn’t much of a factor. Motley has been fun to watch this season, even when he played limited minutes. His energy and hustle is contagious. He’s as persistent as they come on the boards. He has a nice handle of the ball, and he can keep defenses honest with his jump shot. He’s been one of the few players worth watching down the stretch, so let’s hope Rick Carlisle gives him some serious burn in the final game of the season.

Tank Watch

It wouldn’t be a game preview without gauging the landscape through the scope of the tank. Coming into tonight’s game, the Mavericks, Hawks and Magic are all tied at 24-57. The Hawks face the Philadelphia 76ers who are one the hottest teams in the league. Atlanta did just beat the Boston Celtics, but it’s hard to envision them beating a team that has one 14 in a row. The Magic host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday meaning the Mavericks will have to wait until the very last day of the season to find out what odds they receive.

How to watch

The game tips off at 7:30 and can be watched locally on FSSW or out of market on NBA League Pass.