One day after Steve Nash announces his retirement through a blog post, his long time best friend Dirk Nowitzki comes to town with the Dallas Mavericks as the new-age Phoenix Suns try to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Will the Suns have a Nash tribute to show during the game? Maybe. Probably. They should, anyway. But more important than that is scheduling the press conference hoopla around putting Nash immediately into the Suns' Ring of Honor.
But back to tonight's game. The Mavericks come into town with a playoff spot solidified. Their 44 wins are 5 wins better than the 8th place Thunder with just a dozen games to go. The Suns are 2.5 games back of that 8th spot and finally on a surge (winning 4 of 5 games) but it would take a miracle to squeeze into 8th.
- What: Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona
- When: 6:00 PM, one hour earlier than usual
- TV: FoxSports Arizona
- Radio: ArizonaSports 98.7 FM
Since acquiring Rajon Rondo, the Mavs have struggled. Since starting 26-10 with the league's best offense, the Mavericks have gone just 18-16 with the 12th best offense and 16th best defense. Their rebound rate is atrocious, even by Suns standards, at 30th in the league.
The Mavs are one of the league's oldest teams, successfully rebuilding around Nowitzki nearly every offseason with wily vets and undervalued scorers. In the past year, they've managed to acquire Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Rajon Rondo to supplement the Nowitzki/Ellis core.
After the trade deadline, they added the recently released Amare Stoudemire to provide scoring and rebounding on the second unit behind Dirk. Amare has averaged almost 10 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
The Suns have had good success against the Mavericks this year, winning 118-106 in Dallas and then 124-115 in Phoenix. The Suns face the Mavericks twice more in the final weeks of the season, starting tonight.
While the Mavs has been up and down with Rondo at the point, they are still quite a dangerous team with closers inMonta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. The Suns will have to come out playing hard, something they haven't done consistently on the back end of a back-to-back despite being one of the league's youngest teams.
Check out more on the Mavericks at our SB Nation brother site Mavs Moneyball
Hey at least these guys never give up, never surrender.
Counted out for dead less than a week ago, two big wins and more injury woes for their competition has the Suns feeling like there's a chance to make a late run. The wins, while completely different on the scoreboard, had the same footprint: great team wide effort and spirited defense.
After scoring just 74 points in 48 minutes on Thursday night, a franchise record low in a win and just 5 points more than any they've scored in a loss, the Suns opened up the floodgates against the Rockets.
P.J. Tucker scored the Suns' 74th point just 3 minutes into the third quarter.
Then Suns started breaking away. Literally.
And all the while, P.J. Tucker was locking up James Harden. Harden scored just 16 points, partially thanks to defense like this from the Ice Cold Mother Tucker!
Bledsoe and the Morrii continue to produce, despite inconsistent shooting, by grabbing extra rebounds and dishing assists on a nightly basis to keep the team afloat even during ugly scoring droughts.
The Suns will need Brandan Wright to continue his tirade, averaging 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3 blocks over the past three games - all Suns wins. He's been a bright light, especially filling in more young Alex Len's ankles. If anyone can sympathize with Len it's Wright, who struggled with shoulder issues for the first few years of his career.
The Suns are locked, pretty much, into the 9th or 10th spot in the West. They are 6 games up on the 11th place team and 2.5 back of the 8th place team with just 12 to go.
So why not win out?
Brandon Knight remains out (ankle) while Alex Len returned against the Rockets last night.
Out on a limb
I'm going to say the Suns will continue their offensive revival tonight against the Mavericks. It's crazy how bad the Suns have been shooting over the past few weeks, and that's simply bound to turn around.
My prediction is another 110+ point outburst. Will it be enough to win, though?
Interested in playing Daily Fantasy Basketball with the chance to win money? Sign up for FanDuel here! You can bet onEric Bledsoe filling the stat sheet for the Suns and on Monta Ellis or Dirk Nowitzki doing the same for the Mavericks
This one should be a barn burner, with both teams usually content to allow the other to score as long as they're hot.