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Game Preview: Can the Phoenix Suns sweep the season series against the Dallas Mavericks?

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Yes, two of the Suns’ 20 wins have been against the Mavs.  Can they also win the third and final matchup?

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks

When: 5:30 pm (Phoenix time)

TV: Fox Sports Arizona

Radio: 98.7 FM


For the first time in perhaps a very long time, pretty much every Suns’ fan will be rooting for the Suns to get a win.

The Suns already have the best lottery odds locked up and it would just be nice to get a win in the final game of the season. And as bad as this season has been, it would also be kind of nice to have actually swept one season series with another team once it’s all over.

But even against the 24-57 Mavericks, that might not be an easy task if the Suns roll out the same starting lineup that they did Against the Warriors on Sunday. No Devin Booker, no Josh Jackson, no T.J. Warren, no Marquese Chriss, no Tyson Chandler, no Elfrid Payton, no Alan Williams and no Brandon Knight (still).

According to Scott Bordow of AZCentral Sports:

The guys who did play against the Warriors played hard and put up a good fight but they still might not have enough juice to beat Dallas on their home court.

But that assumes that Dallas will actually attempt to win.

Of course the players on the court are going to try to win but that doesn’t mean that the powers that be in Dallas will actually allow their best players to take the court.

Dallas is presently tied with Atlanta and Orlando for the 3rd spot in the reverse standings and a win could possibly drop them all the way down to 5th when the season actually ends. If that were to happen, there is a remote possibility that they could drop as far as 8th after the lottery. They might not want to take a chance on that happening.

Dallas owner Mark Cuban has already publicly stated that it would be in Dallas’ best interests to lose (and was fined $600,000 by the NBA for his comments). I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if any Dallas players have sudden bouts of “muscle strains” or “back spasms” before game time to determine just how serious they are about winning tonight.


UPDATE: From Mavs Moneyball (April 10, 2018) “3 things to watch for as the Mavs host the Suns

”As of this writing, the Mavs will be without Harrison Barnes and Salah Mejri. Smith Jr. and Doug McDermott are both questionable.”


The Mavericks

One thing is certain, long-time Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki will miss the game as he had season ending ankle surgery about a week ago and Wesley Matthews will also be missing after a season ending leg fracture last month.

Harrison Barnes is likely to play and he is the Mavericks’ leading scorer and rebounder with stats of 18.9 ppg and 6.1 rpg. Dennis Smith Jr is second in scoring for the Mavs at 15.2 ppg followed by J.J. Barea (11.6 ppg) now that Nowitzki (12.0) and Matthews (12.7) are out.

As a team, Dallas ranks 15th in the NBA in three point percentage (36.1%) but they are 4th in three pointers attempted per game (32.8). As three point defense has been a weakness for the Suns all season long, expect the Mavericks to launch them frequently tonight.

Likely Starting Lineup

  • PG - Dennis Smith Jr
  • SG - Dorian Finney-Smith
  • SF - Harrison Barnes
  • PF - Johnathan Motley
  • C - Dwight Powell

Team Leaders

  • Points: Harrison Barnes (18.9)
  • Rebounds: Harrison Barnes (6.1)
  • Assists: J.J. Barea (6.3)

The Suns

If Danuel House (22 pts, 8 rebs), Alex Len (16 pts, 10 rebs), Tyler Ulis (15 pts, 10 assists) and Dragan Bender (14 pts, 14 rebs) come anywhere near having the games that they had against Golden State in tonight’s game, the Suns might actually be able to win this one. That could be asking too much though and it’s something that we can’t count on.

What we probably can count on is virtually every one of the Suns players giving it their all tonight. There isn’t a single player in the Suns’ short 9 man rotation that is safe from either being traded or just let go this off-season so they will all be trying to prove that they belong - if not in Phoenix - somewhere in the NBA.

Likely Starting Lineup

  • PG - Tyler Ulis
  • SG - Troy Daniels
  • SF - Danuel House Jr
  • PF - Dragan Bender
  • C - Alex Len

Team Leaders (among the active players)

  • Points: Troy Daniels (9.1)
  • Rebounds: Alex Len (7.5)
  • Assists: Tyler Ulis (4.3)

Summary

This game could go either way. The Suns have no reason to not try to win it now that they have the #1 spot in the reverse standings safely tucked away. Dallas could decide that it would be in their best interests to lose and stack the deck in favor of the Suns by holding a player or two out of the game for whatever reasons.

One thing you can count on is that the players on the court for both teams will play to win and as of right now I have to give the advantage to Dallas.