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Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Game Preview: Suns host Mavericks in Western Conference showdown

Two of the best in the West duel tonight, although the Mavs will be without Luka Doncic.

What: Phoenix Suns (10-3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (9-4)

When: 8:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center

Watch: ESPN, Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


Here come the Suns!

The last time Phoenix lost a basketball game, it was on a fadeaway buzzer-beater by Harrison Barnes. That was on October 27, some three weeks ago. Since that shot the team has put together a nine-game winning streak that, for the most part, no one nationally talks about. The Suns are good, the national pundits know it, and they focus their energy on other storylines.

Fine by me.

Granted, the combined winning percentage of the teams the Suns have defeated over the winning streak is .333. Phoenix is doing what they should be doing: beating up on the teams at the bottom of the pile. That is what good teams do.

On Wednesday they welcome the 9-4 Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs will be down Luka Doncic after he tweaked his ankle with 44 seconds left in the team’s victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

Dallas too has made their living on defeating less-than-stellar competition thus far this season. Their nine wins include victories over the Rockets, Pelicans, Raptors, Kings, and Spurs...twice. Not exactly a murderer’s row of competition.

They are led by head coach Jason Kidd and possess a 107.6 offensive rating (19th in the NBA) and 108.3 defensive rating (16th). Despite their record, the team is in the middle of the pack across the board with all of their metrics and, per Basketball-Reference, they have an ‘expected W/L’ record of 6-7.

So here we go, the second seeded team in the Western Conference versus the third.

Probable Starting Lineups

Uniform Tracker

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky (knee soreness) is QUESTIONABLE

Mavericks:

  • Luka Doncic (ankle) is OUT
  • Maxi Kleber (oblique) is OUT

What to Watch

The Suns like playing the Mavericks, especially considering Phoenix has won the last six games against the team from Dallas. The obvious storyline, Deandre Ayton versus Luka Doncic, will have to wait due to Luka’s recent inury.

The Suns enter the game with the 4th best points-per-game based offense in the NBA, scoring 111.0 points on a 47.0 FG% (2nd in the league). The shots that weren’t falling early in the season have found their home inside the cylinder during the win streak and the team that gave up 42.5 3PT% during the first four games has whittled that down to 34.7%.

Dallas likes the three-ball, shooting the 6th most with 39.3 per-game. Their percentage, however, leaves more to be desired. They are making 33.3% of their three-pointers. If Phoenix can continue their trend of defending the perimeter, good things can

The Mavs also lead the league in protecting the ball; they average a mere 12.4 turnovers per game. The Suns, conversely, are second best at forcing turnovers, disrupting the opposition to the tune of 17.2 a night. The possession battle could determine the outcome of the game, so it is something to definitely keep an eye on.

Lastly, without Luka Doncic, it will be intriguing to see how 6th-year forward Kristaps Porzingis performs.

Keys to a Suns Win

The Mavericks are a perimeter-based team. They love the three-ball and they lack an interior presence. They are second worst in the NBA when it comes to scoring on the interior, averaging 39.1 points on the inside. Phoenix is seventh in the league in the same category, scoring 48.8 points in the paint.

Knowing that Kristaps Porzingis is not an interior threat, although he does average 7.9 rebounds nightly (2.4 on the offensive glass), opens up the paint for Phoenix. Sure, they have Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein in the middle, but Maxi Kleber is out with a strained oblique.

The Suns’ depth will be trouble for the Mavs, who average the 21st most bench points in the league (compared to the Suns, who are 9th). Add in the fact that JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky can provide solid minutes to match the Cauley-Stein minutes, and Phoenix has an edge in almost all areas of the game.

Dominate the paint, win the battle of the benches, leave with a victory.

Prediction

The winning streak continues tonight in front of a national audience. The three-headed interior monster affectionately known as Mc-Ayton-sky controls the boards, negates any inside attack, and allows the Suns to dictate pace and impose their will.

Suns 114, Mavericks 109

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