Tonight the Dallas Mavericks wrap up a five-game home stand, a stretch in which they’ve had a perfect record, notching important wins over the Grizzlies and Thunder and yet another history-making victory over the Lakers. They also played the Nets.
After tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns, the Mavs will embark on a four-game road trip that will pit them against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference (the Raptors and the Wizards). Will they be able to get another win under their belt before heading east? Let’s take a look at what they’re up against tonight.
The sun doesn’t always rise
The Mavericks played the Suns twice in the span of a week back in January, once in Dallas and once in Phoenix, with the road team prevailing each time. At that time, both teams were struggling, with nearly identical records, and seeming like locks to miss the playoffs. And while Dallas' fortunes have taken a turn since the trade deadline, the Suns are still languishing at the bottom of the West, just one game ahead of the last-place Lakers.
A perpetually young team, the Suns have morphed from one of the more exciting teams in the West a few years ago into one of the worst in the league the last two seasons. But that’s not to say this will be a certain win for the Mavs. Phoenix’s starting backcourt (and leading scorers) Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker can get hot (they had 26 and 22 points respectively in their win over the Mavs). If Dallas' shots fall tonight the way they did against Brooklyn last night, the Mavericks could find themselves outmatched.
The Mavericks' revolving roster
Between injuries and 10-day contracts, the Mavericks' roster has been more dynamic this season that it typically is. Last night's game saw the return of J.J. Barea after an extended absence due to a calf strain, as well as Nerlens Noel's first injury-related miss as a Maverick (he's listed as day-to-day with a sore left knee, so questionable for tonight's game). Both of the Mavericks' latest short-term acquisitions, Manny Harris and Jarrod Uthoff, played just two short minutes in last night's game, and may not get much more playing time tonight.
Barea only played 14 minutes last night, but he managed to put up a solid stat line considering his limited minutes (if we ignore his three turnovers): he scored nine points on six shots (he sank one of his three attempts from deep) and had three assists. He's expected to play again tonight, though his playing time will likely still be limited.
If you were hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the more beloved former Mavs still roaming the league, you may be out of luck. Although still a rebounding machine (he averaged more than 11 per game in under 30 minutes of play) and as efficient as ever, the big man fell out of the Suns' rotation last month and may be looking at another DNP-CD.
How to watch
Tonight’s game tips off at 8:00pm Central and can be seen on FSSW (or FSAZ if you’re in Phoenix). Anywhere else you can catch the game on NBA League Pass.