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Game Preview: Struggling Suns face struggling Mavericks in Christmas Day showdown

The Suns and the Mavericks face off for the first time this season in a holiday showdown.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Who: Phoenix Suns (14-14) vs. Dallas Mavericks (17-12)

When: Monday, December 25, – at 8:30 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ

Watch: ESPN

Listen: KMVP 98.7 FM


The sky is falling right now for the Suns. The rotation is a mess, Bradley Beal, well, he’s hurt again, and Eric Gordon isn’t getting the ball enough, leaving him to be rightfully frustrated.

The Suns are in disarray right now, there’s no dispute about that. Perhaps being at home, on Christmas Day, against a recent rival, a start of a turnaround can transpire.

The Suns are Mavericks have had some pretty memorable games the past few years. After a hard-fought series two seasons ago, Dallas dismantled Phoenix in Game 7 of the 2022 Western Conference Semi-Finals. Last year, in a game in March, Luka Dončić and Devin Booker got into it at the end of the game.

It will be no surprise to anyone if this game is tightly contested throughout. Maybe that’s exactly what the Suns need to spark them to get back into a groove. A possible turning point for a team that desperately needs one. Injuries or not, Phoenix has disappointed so far and that needs to change if they want to achieve their goals.

Probable Starters

PHOENIX:

  • Devin Booker
  • Eric Gordon
  • Grayson Allen
  • Kevin Durant
  • Drew Eubanks

Dallas:

  • Luka Dončić
  • Dante Exum
  • Derrick Jones Jr.
  • Grant Williams
  • Dereck Lively

Uniform Matchup

Injury Report

Suns:

Bradley Beal – OUT (Right Ankle Sprain)

Eric Gordon – PROBABLE (Right Hip Soreness)

Damion Lee – OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)

Nassir Little – Available (Orbital Fracture)

Jusuf Nurkić – Out (Personal Reasons)

Josh Okogie – PROBABLE (Right Hip Strain)

Yuta Watanabe – PROBABLE (Right Finger Sprain)

Mavericks:

Josh Green – OUT (Right Elbow Sprain)

Kyrie Irving – OUT (Right Heel Contusion)

Maxi Kleber – OUT (Right Small Toe Dislocation)

Dereck Lively II – QUESTIONABLE (Left Ankle Sprain)

What to Watch For

Even with Kyrie Irving out for Dallas, there will most surely be a ton of offensive fireworks. The last time these two teams faced off, Durant, Booker, and Dončić combined for a whopping 107 points. The same type of offensive numbers today could be coming from those three with both teams dealing with significant injury to their supporting casts.

Eric Gordon recently voiced frustration with his lack of shots. Last game, he only took two while playing more than half the game. Expect his volume to be up after he vocalized his concerns publicly to the media. It may be in Phoenix’s best interest to accommodate his frustrations amid the team’s recent struggles.

Whenever Dončić and Booker play, it is always a must-see. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Dončić undermined any tension between the two stars, their history with each suggests we could have an exciting matchup in store.

Key to a Suns Win

If Phoenix can piece together four strong quarters, they should win this game. Dallas has lost four of their last six games with both wins coming against the Blazers and Spurs, two young, inexperienced, and bad teams. Putting a complete 48 minutes of play would go a long way not only to a win but also to building better habits as a team.

No matter what Phoenix or any team does, Luka Dončić will not be stopped offensively. However, if the Suns can limit everyone else for Dallas, such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Dante Exum, and Dereck Lively II, who if he plays will be returning from a four-game absence after an ankle sprain, they will make the Mavs offensive attack lack balance.

Prediction

It’s honestly hard to envision a world right now where the Suns can legitimately play like a complete basketball team for a whole game, but it may not be needed against Dallas, who is dealing with a few injuries. This may not be the game where Phoenix hits a turning point, but feels like one that they can pull out despite all their issues with Booker and Durant doing the heavy lifting.

Suns 119, Mavs 112

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