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Game Preview: Suns' treacherous road trip begins in Dallas

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The Suns kick off a cruel four-games-in-five-days stretch tonight in Dallas.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Good Guys: The Phoenix Suns, 11-8 and fresh off another whooping of the Pacers.

The Bad Guys: The Dallas Mavericks, 15-5 and last seen escaping Milwaukee with a buzzer-beating win.

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas

When: 6:30PM Arizona time

The Tube: Fox Sports AZ

After a road-trip consisting of Eastern turkeys and a brief homestand consisting of winnable games, the Suns will be in survival mode for the next five days. Survival as in don't get hurt, try and stay competitive, and try not to lose all four of these games.

This is not the proper prescription for a Suns team that is still waiting for that first stretch of really good basketball to kick in, and unfortunately they might have to be content with trading blows for the next month and more. From tonight to January 13, the Suns will play 15 of 21 games on the road.

Last year's push up the standings began on game 19. This time around we may have to wait a bit longer.

But hey, the Suns and Mavs always seem to play each other close, so turn that frown upside-down and enjoy tonight's game.

Starting Lineups

Phoenix Suns Dallas Mavericks
G - Eric Bledsoe G - Jameer Nelson
G - Goran Dragic G - Monta Ellis
F - P.J. Tucker F - Chandler Parsons
F - Markieff Morris F - Dirk Nowitzki
C - Miles Plumlee C - Tyson Chandler

The Opponent

The Mavs might be the only team with a more crowded situation at point guard than the Suns, with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea all battling for minutes, and this is without the injured Raymond Felton. None of this really matters, though, since the real meat of the Mavs' attack is Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and the uber-efficient Brandan Wright.

Dallas is a venerable buzzsaw on offense, detailed here by Grantland's Zach Lowe. They have surpassed 130 points twice already this season, and have yet to lose a single game in which they scored over 100 (15-0). They are also 0-5 when scoring 100 points or fewer, so the Suns' best chance to steal a win might be with their 12th-ranked defense.

(yes, a 12th-ranked defense is worth noting in Phoenix)

On the flipside for the Mavs, they don't defend all that well (16th overall) and are 29th in DRB%. They also allow opponents to shoot an obscene .398 from 3, so this is not a impenetrable fortress by any means. If the Suns can play some D and hit some 3's, they'll have a chance.

Last Matchup, L 98-101

The Suns dropped a crucial game in Dallas on 4/12/14 after leading for most of the way. This all but cemented their exclusion from the playoffs, as their only chance at that point was beating the Grizzlies, which is impossible. Eric Bledsoe notched 29 points on 15 shots. Goran Dragic dragged his damaged ankle around the court for 40 painful-to-watch minutes, scoring only 13 points on 18 shots.

Injury Report

Isaiah Thomas is currently listed as questionable; we'll add an update if/when one comes along. The Mavs are only missing Raymond Felton. In other words, they are 100% for tonight's game.

UPDATE: Thomas is out again, per Paul Coro.

Prediction

The Suns can steal a win if Dragic and Bledsoe can carry over their virtuoso performance from Tuesday's game. The Suns should have even firepower to keep it close in the fourth, especially if Thomas can make his return from injury. This Mavericks team is just too dang good at getting easy buckets though, so it'll take a special night for the Suns to escape with a win.

See you at tip-off. In the meantime, enjoy some vintage Suns/Mavs from 2005.