"We suck right now. Where before we might not have listened, now at least we'll listen. Nothing dramatic has changed except our performance." -Mark Cuban
OK, Mark. Works for me.
Tonight the Suns test their 6 game road winning streak against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas at 7 P.M. Both squads are playing back to back games as the Suns defeated the Grizzlies while the Mavericks lost to the Thunder last night.
The Mavs are losers of 4 of their past 6, most recently succumbing to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, 99-86. The Suns and Mavs have split the first two match-ups this season with each team winning on their home courts. At the moment, the Suns are a half game back of the Mavs who hold the 4th seed in the West while the Suns are tied with Oklahoma City for the 5th.
The Mavericks are adjusting to a new lineup after a deal with the Washington Wizards in which they picked up two-time All-Star Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and cash from Washington for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross.
You may recall the last match up between the Suns as Mavs as the TNT curse breaker. You may also recall the infamous Jason Terry remark at the half about the Suns defense which may or may not have motivated the Suns to lock down the Mavericks in the 4th quarter, holding them to 6-21 shooting. The bench stepped up huge in the contest with 43 points and 17 rebounds. The Suns went 9-15 from beyond the arc, shooting 55% from the field while Jet went 1-5 from beyond the arc and Josh Howard went 3-10 from the field. Of course we won't need to worry about Josh Howard tonight.
In place of Howard is Caron Butler who went 4-16 last night in his Dallas debut. The new additions to the Mavericks may struggle assimilating tonight, however there is plenty for the Suns to be concerned about, including Dirk Nowitzki who averages 23 ppg vs. the Suns along with Marion, Terry, and Kidd who all construct a potent core of the Mavericks squad.
KEYS, CONCERNS, COMMENTARY
I'm not going to lie, I want this Amare business finished. It's difficult for Amare to ignore, since he is the centerpiece of media and fan discussion, but it's also difficult for us fans to be concerned about winning games when most of the talk swirling about mainly speaks to the Suns looking to reload next year. Do any of these games really matter if Amare's going to be shipped off for scrap, cash, draft picks and youngsters who can't drop in 20 and 8 a game?
Well of course these games matter. We're all used to hitting the stretch run without Amare, so...See I lost focus. It's really easy.
It's the usual with the Mavs:
- Slow Kidd from creating, make Dirk work for his shots, keep Marion off the boards, show Butler how we do it in the West (how do we do it?).
- I'd like to see more of the Nash/Lopez two man game that we saw early on last night. Lopez should be able to handle Dampier, he's quicker, younger, more athletic. Same goes for Haywood who dropped in 7 points and 6 boards last night against OKC.
- Terry is coming off an awful night, and perhaps he'll be a bit more motivated tonight after inciting the Suns to lock he and his teammates down last time out. Or maybe he's too arrogant to recall what he said.
- Either way, the Suns are going to need a repeat performance from the bench.
- Don't hold your breath for J-Rich to control the game like last night. He averages 10.5 ppg with zero days rest.
- Not much has been said about Steve Nash's back. Since it's not an injury, and more of just aggravating his pre-existing condition, I expect him to be at or near full strength. He averages 16/13 and shoots 43% versus his ex-employer.
- Oh and Amare...Well man, if you're going out, go out in style, yes?