The Dallas Mavericks (33-31) face off against the Phoenix Suns (34-29) in Dallas at noon on Sunday on ABC. It’s the fourth and final time the teams will play this season. The Mavericks lead the season series 2-1, but there’s not much to take away from those games, because both teams have been remade.
The Suns now have Kevin Durant, and the Mavericks have Kyrie Irving, both acquired in separate blockbuster trades. It’s too early to say whether the trades will be successful, but in the short term, it provides a bit of novelty to the last matchup.
Here are three things to watch for:
Kyrie vs. KD
Sunday will be the showcase for the first matchup between Irving and Durant since their partnership with the Brooklyn Nets disintegrated. It’s always interesting to watch two former superstar teammates face off, but two enigmatic stars like Durant and Irving will be especially riveting. Throw in the fact that these two teams could meet in the playoffs again, and it makes for must-see TV.
Crash the boards
The Suns average almost 12 offensive rebounds per game, sixth in the NBA. That’s bad news for a Mavericks team that’s averaging 59 points in the paint per game in the last 10 games. They’re also middle of the pack in second-chance points allowed at 13.4 per game in the last 10. They’ve got to find a way to control Deandre Ayton. Maxi Kleber being on the floor will help, but the rest of the team has to be aggressive on the glass.
Stagger Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic’s minutes judiciously
The Mavericks will have their hands full shutting down Devin Booker, Durant, Chris Paul, and Ayton. And lately, defense hasn’t exactly been their strength. Dallas will have to put up a bunch of points to win this game. Jason Kidd needs to make sure one of Irving and Doncic is on the court at all times. Just a few minutes of stale offense from a bench unit without those two could lose the game for Dallas. The Mavericks might need 40 points from Irving and Doncic again on Sunday.
How to watch
The game starts at noon on Sunday on ABC.