How has the season series gone between these two?
The Mavericks have struggled against the Suns this season, which is funny, because our last memory of them in 2013-14 was an enormous win in the regular season's penultimate game to push Dallas into the playoffs. Not the case this season, where the Mavericks played them both before and after the Rajon Rondo trade and were annihilated both times. Both emphasized the Mavericks' lack of defense and showed the Suns can still be explosive like the Suns of old, since the first was a 118-106 loss and the second was 124-115. Of course, after a flurry of trade deadline moves, Phoenix themselves is a very different-looking team that will likely match up a little different against Dallas.
What have the Suns done lately?
They were dead and gone from the playoff race two weeks ago, just about, but injuries to the two teams above them have given them new life. After the Thunder looked poised to lock up the No. 8 seed, suddenly that notion seems in doubt due to Serge Ibaka's injury and Kevin Durant likely being shut down for the year. Meanwhile, the Pelicans keep fighting through several hurt players, but Anthony Davis has missed a couple games and if he's not right, New Orleans has next to no shot. The Suns are a half game behind NOLA and 2.5 behind OKC.
What will the most important matchup in this game be?
Rajon Rondo took a while to acclimate, but he's shown some strong defensive performances, particularly against Russell Westbrook. He must carry that over against Eric Bledsoe, who notched a triple double in one of those games against the Mavericks earlier. Al-Farouq Aminu playing the power forward will also be important, because this is not a good matchup for Dirk at all. Unless he's making more than half his shots, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Big German only play about half the game -- 24 minutes or so.
Which Maverick is due for a big game?
Something about Monta Ellis doesn't quite look right, but he's had success against the Suns in the past, so maybe he can put together a strong performance.
8 p.m. CT at US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona on FSSW