- Phoenix Suns (39-39) at Dallas Mavericks (46-31)
- American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
- 6:30PM AZ Time, ESPN and Fox Sports AZ
At 39-39, all that's left for the Suns to accomplish this season is further evaluation of the youngsters in live regular season action and, depending upon how much competitive pride the players have, avoid a losing season.
Last night's horrid performance, a 27 point loss to the Hawks in which the Suns mustered only 69 points on 31% shooting from the field, doesn't indicate the presence of strong competitive pride among this current Suns roster.
The only fight they showed was Markieff Morris scuffling with the Hawks on a couple of occasions, drawing another technical foul and nearly his third ejection of the season. Maybe Keef is determined to make a strong final push for the lead league in techs, where he's still chasing Russell Westbrook (Westbrook leads the league with 16, Keef is second with 15.). Then Eric Bledsoe did get himself ejected with two quick Ts for arguing with officials.
This disappointing season filled with player misbehavior, a huge roster shakeup brought about by an angry trade demand from the team's All-NBA performer, injuries down the stretch to newcomer Brandon Knight and rising, young big man Alex Len and a handful of excruciating buzzer beating losses, is finally limping towards its merciful end.
As seems appropriate for this season, the Suns appear to be going out with a whimper, or maybe more of an exasperated sigh, having dropped 6 of their last 7 games.
At least the Suns have the excuse for their recent indifferent and incompetent performances that the games don't matter. The Mavericks maintain a comfortable hold on the 7th seed in the West, but have lost two in a row, 6 of their last 8, and are below .500 since the All-Star break at 10-12. This is not encouraging for the Mavs as they head into a probable first round playoff matchup versus either the Rockets or Grizzlies.
It's looking like the Mavs may have outsmarted themselves with wheeling and dealing. On December 18th, they traded Brandan Wright (later dealt to the Suns) Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, and draft picks to the Celtics for Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell, hoping the pass-first Rondo paired with with shoot-first Monta Ellis would make their offense even more potent.
19-8 at the time of the trade, the Mavs have only gone 27-23 since, as the Rondo-Ellis tandem has produced -4.2 points per 100 possessions on the floor together. Rondo's been a negative presence for the Mavs, and now they have to figure out if they should try to bring him back when he becomes a free agent this summer.
- PG: Eric Bledsoe vs. Rajon Rondo
- SG: P.J. Tucker vs. Monta Ellis
- SF: Marcus Morris vs. Richard Jefferson
- PF: Markieff Morris vs. Dirk Nowitzki
- C: Brandan Wright vs.Tyson Chandler
Suns have won all three meetings between the teams this season: 118-106 and 124-115 in December, and 98-92 just a couple of weeks ago. Can this Suns team possibly complete the sweep against a playoff team? I'm going with no.
Ray's pick: Mavs win, 106-92