Preview: Dallas Mavericks (8-10) at Phoenix Suns (7-12)

Dallas Mavericks 97, Phoenix Suns 94



There was a time when a Mavericks-Suns game was a marquee matchup, the kind of game routinely picked for a Thursday night nationally-televised showdown.

Instead tonight TNT might wonder what it was thinking to pit a Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavs team that has lost four of five after being crushed late last night by the Clippers against a Suns squad that has dropped four in a row and has no star power to speak of.

Well, at least the first game of the doubleheader between the Knicks and Heat should be more reminiscent of primetime.

Yet in this matchup between two struggling teams, I feel like the Suns will have the intangibles edge that could be the difference in what should be a relatively even matchup.

First off, the Mavericks played an 8:30 p.m. Arizona time game last night in Los Angeles and thus did not get into town until the middle of the night. Such back-to-backs after a late game are always brutal, and thus Dallas should be expected to be at a bit of an energy deficiency.

With the Suns and Mavs both among the NBA’s top 10 teams in pace (Dallas actually ranks second), this figures to be a quick game, which should bode well for Phoenix considering Dallas’ tired legs.

Furthermore, although it used to be a weekly occurrence, this will be one of the Suns’ few primetime matchups of the season. They only play one more TNT game (Jan. 24 against the Clippers) and just one all year on ESPN (Nash’s first game back on Jan. 30). Players often get up a little more for big games like this, and considering the Suns won’t have many in front of a national audience I feel they will come out especially ready to play.

It’s also a pivotal game on Phoenix’s schedule considering we just found out the Suns likely won’t be very good on the road after losing five of six on this trip and nine of 11 for the season. However, thus far the Suns are a respectable 5-3 at home and must take advantage of a stretch with six of their next seven in the Purple Palace to avoid falling completely out of the playoff picture before New Year’s. The upcoming Memphis game aside, there is no home game during this stretch in which the Suns should not expect to be competitive.

That starts with a losing Mavs squad that is 2-7 away from Big D. They are led in scoring by O.J. Mayo (19.7 points per game), which is painful news for Suns fans considering Mayo was a top target for Phoenix once the Hornets/Pelicans matched on Eric Gordon. Mayo eventually signed with the Mavs for  one year at $4 million with a player option for next year that will be declined considering the way he is playing.

Mayo is carrying this team offensively with Dirk hurt and should become a pretty solid second banana once the big German returns to the floor. Instead the Suns chose to gamble on two guaranteed years of Michael Beasley, and thus far they aren’t exactly getting the same bang for their buck as the Mavs. Mayo was a risk like Beasley as top draftees from the class of 2008 that had yet to pan out, yet at this point in the season Mayo looks much closer to fulfilling his promise than Beas.

Many Suns games the rest of the season may not be all that important to anybody outside of the Valley and the opponent’s city if it continues to go as it did during the past road trip, but for one night the Suns will have the nation’s attention against their old rivals from Dallas.

And with the Suns guaranteeing their fans a good time or their money back, they have no shortage of incentives to put together one of their better performances of the season.

And 1

Suns president Jason Rowley told The Arizona Republic’s Bob Young that only about 1,000 tickets remained for this contest as of Wednesday morning, meaning the guarantee could lead to a rare Suns sellout.

  • Scott

    Perhaps the Suns could play Beasley at SG to highlight the difference between Beasley and Mayo.

  • Yohance

    No please don’t start Beasley!




    Tucker/Wes Johnson

    I will then guarantee a win to get the
    Suns to play their tails off. It used to work for the
    Detroit Pistons and Rasheed Wallace.
    But in all joking aside we should be able to beat a
    Dirkless Mavs team. With Gentry coaching though I bet we start Brown,Beasley, and Gortat then we lose a close game or just barely win. I can’t take it anymore but I will watch Suns4life. But I’m considering going back to being a Knicks fan.

  • Scott

    The opportunity for trades is coming soon. Starting Dec 15, the Suns will be able to trade Beasley along with any other players except Scola (who cannot be traded till July 1).

  • Polish_fan

    Gortat wi
    orse than oneal….Good joke, really man! He is not getting enoug of passes and is not being set up for an easy baskets…. Nash played with more less the same quality players and was able to do it right. Goran is too much concentrated on his own shots….
    There is no team. Everyone are doing just their stats and thats all. Thats why there are no spacing passes etc ….

  • john

    O’Neal and Gortat have very different styles on the offensive end.

    I don’t think it’s an argument of who is “better,” but rather who better fits with the rest of the team.

    The offense is going to run through Goran. He’s clearly the best player on the team, and there’s not even a question about it. From what I’ve seen so far, Goran and Marcin’s games don’t mix, or at least they haven’t found a way to play together yet. Marcin’s strength is finishing on the run. Goran’s strength is exactly the same. Marcin is forced to run PnP’s all day long instead of his bread and butter PnR’s because Goran is demanding the lane (not that Goran is wrong for doing so, I’m just saying their games clash rather than complement each other’s). O’Neal is a MUCH more refined iso post threat, as is Scola (Scola is also better suited for the PnP).

    If the Suns were a PnR team, Marcin would be getting his looks, because he’s the best PnR finisher on the team. However, Marcin isn’t getting his PnR opportunities because that is not the strength of the team’s best player.

    I feel like I’m starting to go in circles with this, but just suffice it to say, Marcin is a great player, but he doesn’t fit with Goran’s game.

  • Yohance

    Thanks John,

    You explained it to a “T”. I am not saying that I do
    not like Gortat, because I do. I am just looking at
    the these early games and seeing which players
    compliment each other and playing styles that don’t

    Telfair -pesky defender, decent scorer, can pass a little.
    Dragic-most consistent scorer, decent defender, penetrates well on the run, can distribute, needs to be utilized like Manu Ginobli.
    Dudley-high IQ, can usually hit to open shot, not a shabby defender plays well with Dragic.
    Scola-crafty with back to basket, pesky on defense,
    needs work on rebounds, but can also hit the open J in PnP game. Plays well with Dragic and goes all out.
    O’Neal-Veteran big man who is decent on defense, and will block shots and okay in the post and will rebound.

  • BCrayZ

    Got this before the game this time.

    More often then not, the preview arrives with the post game writeup, long after the game is over.

  • Scott

    Gentry is hinting at a lineup change.

    Maybe now that he’s seen how well Garrett handled the 2nd unit he’s more willing to allow Telfair to start with Dragic.

  • Dan Smith

    hahaha at the Beasley starting at SG joke…I was thinking the other day, one of the guys at TNT could start a Beasley segment like Shaq did last year with Javale McGee “Shaqtin’ a Fool’ LOL..instead they could call it Leave it to Beasley..A play on Leave It To Beaver, hahah

  • bk

    The coach may think of playing Beasley at PF since he didn’t shoot well. If it works, then he knows whom can be traded later.