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Phoenix Suns Vs. Dallas Mavericks Game Preview

[Note by Wil Cantrell, 01/30/12 5:48 PM MST ]

Per Paul Coro tweet: "Gentry just confirmed that Nash will not play tonight. Price likely will start."

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns are posed with the task of taking on the defending champion Dallas Mavericks at U.S. Airways Arena.

The Mavericks are coming off an overtime victory versus the Spurs last night as Jason Terry led the scoring with 34 points. While the Mavericks do not currently resemble the team that won the NBA Title a year ago, they are leading the Southwest Division, winners of four of their last five.

After giving their big man a four game break to "rest," Dirk Nowitzki has returned to the hardwood for the Mavs. Jason Kidd is out tonight with a sprained right calf.

And now, as a special treat to you, my faithful reader, Mavs Moneyball manager, Lisa Rotter was kind enough to answer some Maverick and Suns related questions, including their reasoning for allowing Vince Carter on the team.

WC: After a slow start, do you think the Mavs will again be title contenders?

LR: The team is still way too inconsistent to say with any certainty if they can make it to the finals again. I do think that Coach Carlisle is desperately trying to limit minutes for the older guys to keep them fresh when the playoffs roll around, but it's going to take some major gelling to be finals-ready. We definitely have the offensive pieces to be a contender again, but as you have all seen, it's taking more time for those pieces to fit in the puzzle than we anticipated.

WC: Why Vince Carter? Wasn't there anyone else out there the Mavs could have signed? Derek Harper? Jim Jackson maybe? Obviously we Suns fans have a nasty taste in our mouths from his performance last year.

LR: The Mavs fans were split on Carter when we heard he was coming. Many people assumed we'd be getting the Magic/Suns VC who would be useless and fail to fit in with the team. Then there were those of us (myself included) who gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped we would get old school Raptors/Nets Vinsanity. Lo and behold, he has been contributing really well and really quickly. He was relatively cheap and doesn't necessarily have to be long term, so he was a low risk, high reward acquisition along the same lines of Lamar Odom and Delonte West. He's a veteran who has good basketball sense and has made an immediate impact.

WC: OK, let's get down to brass tacks here. Is there any desire among Mav fans and or perhaps the FO to bring back Steve Nash? If so, what do you think the Suns could obtain in return?

LR: For sentimentality's sake, Mavs fans will always wish for Nashty to come back. But the fact is, the direction of this team is such that taking on Nash to fill Kidd's eventual vacancy seems a bit redundant. Better to start looking for younger talent to take over when the old men of this team (Kidd, Terry, eventually Dirk) can no longer produce. Before the championship, the mentality was to find pieces that fit and give us an immediate shot at the title. Nash would have been one of those guys. Now that the Mavs are looking for long-term changes, he doesn't make as much sense.

WC: What are your thoughts on the Suns? If you were the Suns ownership and front office, would you trade Nash this season and begin the rebuild in earnest?

LR: If Nash is still producing at his high level, I see no reason to get rid of him just yet. It seems like the best results come when there's a transition period between the old and new. I am not personally fond of the overhaul tactic... I think it makes better sense to replace and start over a little bit at a time. It's always painful to watch your team struggle and the temptation to start from scratch is pretty strong, but patience is a virtue. Trust us on that one.

WC: As a Maverick fan, you had to deal with a few years of misery as Mark Cuban and Co. rebuilt the Mavs back into a contender. What advice do you have for Suns fans as we near the abyss?

See above... Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. And other such cliches. The Mavericks proved that once you have your centerpiece, all it takes is tweaking here and there to get the chemistry right before a deep run is possible.

WC: Bonus question: What's your prediction for tonight's contest? Sounds like both Nash and Kidd are out for this one.

LR: The Mavericks are doing better without Kidd at the moment. We are getting good burn from Beaubois and West, and Dirk had an abysmal night against the Spurs so he's about due for some improvement. I never predict scores, but I'm thinking that Dallas has a pretty good shot at this one, despite coming off an overtime win into a back-to-back.

Special thanks to the lovely Ms. Rotter. You can follow her on Mavs Moneyball and via twitter at

Worth Pointing Out

  • As of 11.30 AM AZ time, Steve Nash is questionable for tonight's game. Obviously that puts a damper on thoughts of an upset over the Mavericks.
  • Will Robin Lopez ever suit up for the Suns again? Do we care? That guy isn't in the doghouse, he's in the friggin' pound.
  • In the last matchup vs. the Mavs, the Suns out-rebounded their opponent 52-42. Nevertheless, some timely 3's by Shawn Marion, coupled with 37% shooting doomed the Suns to a 93-87 defeat.
  • The Phoenix Suns are 6-4 when Jared Dudley scores in double figures. The Suns are 4-1 when Dudz scores more than 15 points.
  • In 36 games vs. the Suns, Jason Terry averages 17 ppg and shoots 41% from beyond the arc.
  • Dirk Nowitzki has played 50 games versus the Suns, averaging 23 ppg, 9 rebounds per game, while shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.

How Can the Suns Win Tonight?

Well, that's quite a question, now isn't it? Nash may be out for the Suns. But Kidd is out for the Mavs. Dirk is back for the Mavs, yet appeared a smidge rusty last night against the Spurs. The Mavs are playing a second night of back to backs after playing a good Spurs squad who took them to overtime before losing.

But none of that matters to the Suns, with the exception of Nash possibly missing this one. Nash is more important to the Suns than Kidd is to the Mavs. Dirk's crappy statistical evening against the Spurs most likely means he's going to light it up tonight...So it's the usual for the up and down Suns....PLAY D, REBOUND, COMPETE ON YOUR HOME COURT, oh and maybe shoot better than 30%, hit some 3's, limit the turnovers. Yeah, mostly things the Suns haven't done all season.

Yet anything is possible, right? Check out the Suns numbers. Just think if a few normally dependable players can reach career averages (yeah Channing, I'm thinking mostly of you):

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Marcin Gortat 19 31.4 6.6 11.8 56.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.6 61.2 2.4 7.6 10.1 0.8 1.5 0.6 1.6 2.2 14.8
Steve Nash 18 31.4 5.7 10.7 52.8 1.1 2.8 39.2 1.9 2.2 85.0 0.3 2.0 2.3 9.9 3.5 0.6 0.0 0.6 14.3
Jared Dudley 19 29.7 3.8 8.7 43.6 0.9 2.9 32.7 1.6 2.1 77.5 1.2 2.9 4.1 1.8 0.9 1.0 0.2 1.5 10.2
Grant Hill 18 26.8 3.7 9.5 39.2 0.3 1.3 21.7 1.7 1.9 88.2 0.6 3.1 3.7 1.4 1.6 0.7 0.8 1.8 9.4
Shannon Brown 18 21.3 3.6 9.1 39.0 0.8 2.5 31.1 1.5 1.8 81.8 0.5 1.6 2.1 0.9 1.2 1.0 0.1 1.3 9.4
Hakim Warrick 16 18.1 3.1 6.6 47.2 0.1 0.4 14.3 2.3 3.2 72.5 1.3 1.8 3.1 1.1 1.1 0.2 0.1 1.3 8.6
Markieff Morris 19 21.1 2.8 6.5 43.5 0.9 2.0 47.4 0.7 0.9 77.8 1.2 4.1 5.2 1.1 1.4 0.6 0.5 3.1 7.4
Channing Frye 19 21.6 2.6 7.4 35.0 1.1 3.6 30.4 0.5 0.6 81.8 1.1 4.7 5.8 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.7 2.3 6.7
Robin Lopez 17 14.2 1.6 3.5 47.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 2.1 74.3 1.1 2.2 3.3 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.6 2.5 4.8
Sebastian Telfair 13 11.3 1.4 4.8 28.6 0.5 1.2 37.5 1.2 1.4 83.3 0.2 0.8 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.0 1.5 4.4
Ronnie Price 19 16.7 1.6 4.0 39.5 0.5 1.5 35.7 0.6 0.7 84.6 0.6 1.1 1.7 2.3 1.4 1.1 0.2 2.3 4.3
Michael Redd 7 10.7 0.9 3.9 22.2 0.4 2.0 21.4 1.1 1.7 66.7 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.6 3.3
Josh Childress 7 11.4 0.9 2.4 35.3 0.1 1.1 12.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.0 1.7 0.6 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.6 1.9

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