The Dallas Mavericks (26-19) finish up another back-to-back by hosting the Western Conference leading Phoenix Suns (34-9). While the Mavericks get the benefit of playing both games at home, after their 102-98 win over the Toronto Raptors last night at the AAC, the Suns enter the game off two days of rest.
This is their third game against the Phoenix, the first two both Mavericks losses, although both were without Luka Doncic. Here is what we’ll watch for.
Holding up to the schedule
The Mavericks have played a decent amount of winnable games lately, but the demands of their schedule have been dense. They’re fortunate to be relieved of heavy travel, now in the midst of a five-game home stand.
They have actually been solid so far this season in tight schedules, going 5-2 in games off no days rest. But this one-two punch of playing an athletic and physical Raptors team followed by an athletic and physical Suns team is quite a test.
The Mavericks lead the league in games with 10 or fewer turnovers (17 games). As they play slower than practically any other team in the league, taking care of the ball becomes paramount. The Phoenix Suns are eighth in the league in creating 15.1 turnovers per game.
In the first two matchups, back-to-back games in Phoenix, the Mavericks had ten turnovers in each. The Suns had eight in game one and 18 in game two, yet the Mavericks did not make them pay. There is no doubt that in the time since then the Mavericks defense, and their leveraging of controlling possession, has grown. This will be something worth monitoring tonight.
Protecting the glass
In last night’s game the Raptors dominated their offensive glass for long stretches. It was not surprising to check during the game and see they lead the league in offensive rebound percentage.
While the Suns don’t rank nearly as high in that regard, the Mavericks can’t give up second chances to the best team in the West. On the season, the Mavs are second in the league in Defensive Rebound-percentage. So if during tonight’s matchup we start to see the Suns’ offensive rebounding starting to emerge, it could be a long night.
How to watch
Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. CST, and can be watched nationally on TNT, and locally on Bally Sports Southwest.