I’m not sure why so many pundits think the Mavericks will be the NBA team without a chair when the music stops on this game of musical chairs involving nine Western Conference teams and eight playoff spots.
The Mavs boast a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki, who joins a solid Big Three with Josh Howard and Jason Terry, an aging but still effective at running an offense point guard in Jason Kidd and a solid supporting cast including Brandon Bass, JJ Barea and yes, even Erick Dampier.
This sounds like a playoff team to me in every sense of the word.
They may not have been destined to play into May after a 2-7 start, but since then they’ve run off a 20-6 stretch, winning eight of their last 10.
This is a dangerous Mavericks ball club, and the Suns know that well after the Mavs wiped the floor with them during a 112-97 defeat in Dallas on Dec. 4.
I really can’t imagine Dallas missing the playoffs, but I also can’t imagine the Suns missing the playoffs either.
And entering play today, ESPN’s John Hollinger’s playoff odds has Dallas in the No. 8 spot with a 76.6 chance of reaching the playoffs and the Suns No. 9 with a 73.1 percent chance of getting into postseason play.
It’s way too early to think it will come down to these teams, especially with Carlos Boozer’s lingering injury issues in Utah, but this is a game the Suns really need to have.
Not only would it help them forget about Wednesday’s disaster ending against the Pacers, but in case it does come down to these two teams the Suns can’t be trailing 2-0 in the tiebreaker with two to play. The Mavs held serve on their home court, and now it’s the Suns’ turn to do so as well.
As usual, good buddies Dirk and Steve will be keys in this one.
Nowitzki has scored at least 30 points in four straight regular season games against Phoenix and seven of nine overall.
That includes his 39-point performance on 17-for-25 shooting in the first meeting, a game in which the Suns were seriously hindered by not having Shawn Marion around anymore to check the big German. With Marion in Miami, nobody else accepted the challenge.
Nash, meanwhile, is averaging 21.1 points and 11.9 assists per game against his former team in the last four-plus years since he left Dallas.
Not that it’s a surprise that defense would be important in this one, but it is fairly eye popping that the Suns are 10-2 when holding their opponent under 100 points and the Mavs are a perfect 14-0 when their opposition scores less than 96 points. The Suns average 103.5 points per game and the Mavericks 99.5
In an unrelated note, so much for those Shaun Livingston rumors, as the Heat traded him to the Grizzlies a day after announcing he had been waived.
That means it would be no surprise if Dee Brown is eventually signed to a 10-day contract after being waived to avoid his contract being guaranteed for the remainder of the season, but let’s hope the Suns find a real solution to their backup point guard issue soon if one is out there.