What: Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks
When: 7:00 PM AZ Time
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
These teams have faced off twice this season with each team getting a win. In January the Suns won the first meeting in Dallas 102-95 and then one week later lost the second meeting in Mexico City 113-108 even with Devin Booker putting up 39 points that night. Dallas is still fighting for that eighth playoff seed while the Suns are just fighting for a few wins and some respect.
The two teams that will meet tonight aren't the same teams that played back then so the past has little bearing on this game. Dallas has bid farewell to Deron Williams (buyout) and Andrew Bogut (traded to the 76ers) and added Nerlens Noel.
Seth Curry has been getting close to putting up numbers like his more well known brother Steph lately. He’s leading the Mavs in points per game (22.0), hitting 55.1% of his threes, 57.5% of all his field goal attempts while also taking time out to average 1.3 steals, 3.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game since the All-Star break. He's actually been shooting much better than Steph has since the break.
Yogi Ferrell has risen from basketball obscurity to a starting role in Dallas and dishes out 5.3 assists per game while adding 10.8 points per night. Noel is flirting with averaging a double-double (he's had 2 in 6 games so far) with 10.0 ppg and 8.5 rpg while only averaging 24.2 minutes per game. Harrison Barnes is getting 19.8 ppg, the old man - Dirk Nowitzki - is still scoring 13.9 ppg and just recently passed the 30,000 point career milestone and Wes Mathews is still playing solid ball getting 9.8 ppg while hitting 36.7% from three.
All of these stats are just from the games that Dallas has played since the All-Star break, not full season averages.
Dallas is 6-2 since the break, on a four game win streak and only 1.5 games out of the eighth seed. The Mavs have plenty of fight left in them, a clear goal (the playoffs) and a new look that has so far been working well.
The Suns (3-5 since the break) also have a new look but are basically just playing for pride at this point. That pride took a big smack to the chops in the Lakers game so I'm expecting them to be a little more fired up tonight and try to redeem themselves in Dallas.
Eric Bledsoe has led the Suns in scoring since the break with 18.9 ppg followed closely by Devin Booker's 18.4 ppg. Booker has also been connecting on 40.5% of his three point attempts. Marquese Chriss has been hitting 50.0% of his threes. T.J. Warren has been averaging 16.8 ppg with 8.0 rpg. Alan Williams has averaged a double-double (14.5 ppg and 10.3 rpg) since the break. Tyler Ulis has been a big factor in those games as well averaging 8.9 points, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting a respectable 33.3% from the three point line in 19.9 minutes.
All of the Suns stats are also post All-Star break figures.
The Mavericks (28-36)
G - Yogi Ferrell
G - Seth Curry
F - Wesley Matthews
F - Harrison Barnes
C - Dirk Nowitzki
The Suns (21-44)
G - Eric Bledsoe
G - Devin Booker
F - T.J. Warren
F - Marquese Chriss
C - Alex Len
I watched the Dallas/Brooklyn game last night and Brooklyn played them hard until midway through the 4th quarter which might be a factor in the game tonight. Dallas had to work hard for the win for at least 3 and a half quarters. Noel did not play in this game because of a sore knee. He's listed as day-to-day so he may or may not play against the Suns.
This should be an interesting game to watch. Dallas plays a very small backcourt duo in Ferrell (6'0") and Curry (6'2"). They also still usually start Nowitzki at the 5, Barnes at the 4 and Mathews at the 3. If Booker is on target tonight he should have a big game shooting over the smaller Dallas defenders. You really can't guard Dirk so Phoenix will just have to hope that he's tired on the second night of a back-to-back. Marquese Chriss needs to continue hitting threes to offset Barnes' production and defensively he has to turn Barnes into a jump shooter and not let him get by him and into the paint. Noel does his damage off the bench and I fear that Big Sauce will not fare well against him in that matchup if Noel is available to play.
I give the Mavericks a slight edge but this could be anyone’s ballgame tonight.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com