Time: 5 pm (local)
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM
Welcome, everyone, to the final installment of 31sts with Deadpoolio. I was holding out hope that there might be a chance at a May 31st edition, but funny story...
The Phoenix Suns (14-34) "challenge" the Dallas Mavericks (27-22) in Dallas, Texas today, seeking something even more elusive than the Higgs boson or bipartisan politics — a win on the road.
Dallas, currently 6th in the West, is coming off a 91-79 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 29 in Dallas. After being spurned by free agency target DeAndre Jordan in the offseason, the Mavericks quietly assembled a solid roster that has them once again in the playoff hunt.
As usual, the Mavericks are led by veteran power forward Dirk Nowitzki. His career may be winding down, but he still averages 17.5 points per game and recently moved past Shaquille O'Neal for 6th place on the NBA's all-time points list. Teaming with him in the frontcourt is Zaza Pachulia, who is averaging 10.5 points and a career-high 10.8 rebounds a night and came within 14,000 votes of being named an All-Star starter over San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard. Chandler Parsons, who had microfracture surgery on his right knee in May, has averaged 23.1 points and 7.1 rebounds over his last seven games while shooting 57.4 percent from the field and 58.1 percent from 3. Deron Williams, second on the team in scoring, has already had more 20-point games this season (9) than he had all of last season with Brooklyn (8).
Dallas is an average basketball team by nearly every statistical measure. They are 13th in overall record, 16th in both rebounding and assists, 19th in points (100.9), 20th in 3-point accuracy (34.1 percent), and 21st in field goal percentage (44.2 percent). In fact, they are one of just three teams this season with a winning record that have a negative overall point differential (-19). However, Dallas does hold its opponents to 33.8 percent from 3, which is 8th in the NBA.
Points: Dirk Nowitzki (17.5)
Rebounds: Zaza Pachulia (10.8)
Assists: Deron Williams (5.5)
The Suns would have a higher rate of success if they started searching for opal in Coober Pedy, South Australia than wins on the road. They have lost their last 13 road games, which is second-worst in the NBA this season to Philadelphia's 18-game losing streak, and only an improbable late-game fadeaway by Mirza Teletovic against Chicago has prevented this streak from presently sitting at 18 games. The current road losing streak is also tied for the third-longest in team history.
Phoenix is coming off an uninspired 102-84 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday, where they set the tone for the game by committing nine turnovers in the first six minutes. Devin Booker led the team with 21 points, and Jordan McRae, the newest 10-day contract signee playing emergency point guard behind emergency point guard Archie Goodwin, scored 12 points in his NBA debut.
For those interested, Phoenix still allows the highest opponent field goal percentage (47.4) and second-highest 3-point percentage (38.1) and total points (106.8). They also commit the second-most turnovers per game (16.8).
Points: Eric Bledsoe (20.4)
Rebounds: Tyson Chandler (8.3)
Assists: Eric Bledsoe (6.1)
Eric Bledsoe (Suns): left knee surgery (OUT)
Brandon Knight (Suns): groin pull (OUT)
Ronnie Price (Suns): right big toe surgery (OUT)
Devin Harris (Mavericks): left toe strain (QUESTIONABLE)
The Suns have lost both meetings with Dallas this season, dropping the season opener 111-95 on Oct. 28 at home and then losing 104-94 on Dec. 14 in Dallas. In those two meetings, the Suns have shot 40.1 percent to the Mavericks' 48.1 percent (30.6 percent to 41.5 percent from 3). Raymond Felton has been the biggest catalyst for Dallas in those wins, averaging 17.5 points in a big backcourt with Williams.
Now Dallas faces the Suns without Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for the first time. Phoenix has played well against good teams this season — at least for stretches — and could catch the Mavericks by surprise the way Philadelphia nearly did Golden State yesterday. Or the Suns could throw the ball around like some elementary school team and generally embarrass themselves, the franchise, and the city of Phoenix for the umpteenth time. Either way.
Chandler Parsons vs. P.J. Tucker
This could have also been Raymond Felton vs. Devin Booker, but Parsons has been red-hot lately, meaning we get to see Tucker accept yet another defensive challenge. Tucker held Carmelo Anthony to 5-of-14 shooting in his last game despite Anthony picking apart the rest of the defense to the tune of eight assists. If he can limit Parsons' offense while putting up a similar stat line to his New York game (9 points, 10 rebounds), he will have done his job to give the Suns a fighting chance.