If it can be said that a 6-9 team is on a hot streak, then the Phoenix Suns appear to be on the verge of one. Tonight, the Suns will look to extend their road game winning streak to three when they take on the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center at 6:30pm MST.
The Phoenix Suns lost the first two games of their current road trip to the San Antonio Spurs without Manu Gilnobli, and then to Chicago Bulls without Derrick Rose. But just when it looked like all hope was lost, the Suns came back to life with two promising, consecutive road wins against the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics, and now sit at 2-2 over the last four games. The Suns have now turned what looked like a very treacherous five game road series into what could end up as a winning trip, depending on how they finish tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
Also, in what should be great news, Dirk Nowitzki will not play in tonight's game as he continues to sit out for what will be a four game hiatus to work on conditioning and rehabbing a sore knee. However, the last two teams the Suns played minus one of their star players they lost (see above), so the Suns cannot rely on this alone to help them.
Instead, if the Suns hope to finish off their road trip with a win against Dallas before returning back home to play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow, the Suns will need to keep their energy and intensity high and continue to play great defense like they did over their last two games. The Mavericks are still a dangerous team even when Dirk-less, so the Suns need to come out strong and keep the pressure on throughout the game.
Read on for more analysis after the jump...
Here's a look at the Mavericks:
The Dallas Mavericks will be looking for their seventh straight home win and their ninth consecutive victory against the Phoenix Suns tonight. Without Nowitzki, the Mavericks will instead start Lamar Odom in his place at the Power Forward position. Dirk was held out against the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday and Lamar Odom played very well in his absence, scoring 16pts to help the Mavericks win 83-81. Oh, and Vince Carter will also be sitting out tonight's game as well with a sprained foot...In case you wanted to know.
- Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd (Advantage Suns)
- Ronnie Price vs. Jason Terry (Advantage Mavs)
- Grant Hill vs. Shawn Marion (Push)
- Markieff Morris vs. Lamar Odom (Advantage Mavs)
- Marcin Gortat vs. Brendan Haywood (Strong Advantage Suns)
- Suns Bench vs. Mavs Bench (Advantage Suns)
Keys to a Suns' win:
- Feed the Beast! - Marcin Gortat has been averaging 17.6 points over his last seven games, and the Suns will need to use his match-up advantage over Brendan Haywood early and often to help get their team going on offense.
- Defense! - The Suns have held their last two opponents to 81 and 77 respectively, and they will need to continue this trend again tonight if they hope to get a win in Dallas.
- No Fly Zone - In the Mavericks' last win against Phoenix, Jason Terry got loose for 18 points, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. Without Dirk, the JET could very well be the most dangerous player on the court tonight. The Suns will need to do a better job of keeping track of Terry; both closing out on him and chasing him off the line to prevent him from becoming a factor.
- Supporting Cast - Finally, the Suns will need to get help from their second unit tonight to help the Suns pull off a victory. While Steve Nash has been fantastic, the Suns can't overuse him before coming back home and playing again tomorrow. Ronnie Price and Sebastian Telfair will both need to do their part, along with the help of Jared Dudley and Channing Frye who have joined the second unit to help give it a boost.
This is a winnable game for the Suns who can finish off this very tough road trip with a record of 3-2, if they can defeat the Mavericks tonight! How bad do they want it? Time will tell.
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