The Dallas Mavericks will look to avoid a six-game losing streak as they face the Phoenix Suns for a second consecutive game. Though the Mavericks lost Saturday, the team at least showed some signs of life after two pitiful losses to the Utah Jazz. Dallas even led by 15 in the third quarter until the offense clammed up in the final minutes.
The Mavericks are desperate for a win, good, bad, or ugly. Here’s what to watch for when the teams tip Monday:
Can the Mavericks battle in the paint?
DeAndre Ayton all but had his way Saturday as he racked up 18 points and 17 rebounds while forcing both Willie Cauley-Stein and Dwight Powell to foul out. Aside from a brief stretch when Ayton received medical treatment on his shoulder, he dominated the Mavericks big men. In fact, Powell lasted only 18 minutes. Dallas should be getting more horses in the stable, however. Kristaps Porzingis will return after resting, and Maxi Kleber should play after passing health and safety protocols. The Mavericks have been abused on the boards and in the paint and is 3-11 when outrebounded by opponents.
The Mavericks need more from Josh Richardson
In his three games since returning from COVID, Richardson is averaging seven points, two rebounds, and one assist while shooting 39 percent from the field. Even worse, he’s missed all seven of his attempts from beyond the arc. It stands to reason all the players who missed time are working to get into game shape, but the Mavericks are in a serious skid and need their offseason acquisition to step up.
Can WCS follow up a great performance?
Consistency is essentially the crux of Cauley-Stein’s career, and Monday he’ll get a chance to follow up a 14 point (7-of-8), nine-rebound, and four-block performance. The biggest question is if Carlise will give Cauley-Stein slack with Porzingis, Kleber and Powell all in the rotation. All players carry their own narratives, but if Carlisle is going with the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality, Cauley-Stein deserves a longer leash.
How to watch
The game tips at 7:30 and can be watched on NBA TV.