Time: 7 p.m. MST
TV: FSAThe Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks match-up for the first time this season at the US Airways Center, and both are coming off close games last night. The Mavericks lost by one in overtime to the Toronto Raptors, and the Suns came from behind in Denver after trailing by 21 to win 103-102.
The Mavericks are still led by the ageless Dirk Nowitzki and his 21.1 points per game. But outside of him, Dallas is looking for consistency after last year’s patient attempt to build the squad back into a playoff contender following the 2011 title run. Former Sun Shawn Marion is still playing big minutes for them, but otherwise, it’s a brand new team. Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis were brought in during the summer as their starting guards and are both playing well, and as long as the Mavs have Nowitzki hanging around, they’ll be a tough foe.
How does the Suns starting unit respond?
The Suns starters played a very small role in their come-from-behind win against Denver, unless you take into account that they were the reason they were down so much in the first place. The starting five only scored 39 of the teams 103 points and only Goran Dragic and P.J. Tucker played big minutes in the fourth quarter. Discounting Dragic, Markieff Morris (25) outscored the other Suns starters’ output combined. They just came out flat last night, which happens, and luckily the bench was able to bail them out. I would expect a strong bounce-back effort from the entire starting unit.
Does Monta Ellis catch fire?
Ellis likes to shoot…. a lot. He has only taken less than 14 shot attempts three times this season, and two of those instances came recently. But, the point is that Ellis will shoot the rock and he does it well averaging over 20 points per game. With that said, there will be nights when Ellis shoots his team out of games like his 2-for-16 performance against Golden State. If the Suns can keep Ellis around or below that 20 point average, they should be in good shape to win.
Does the back-to-back favor young legs, old legs, or neither?
Both teams will be traveling into Phoenix after their games on Friday night, and Dallas lost to Toronto in overtime. The Mavericks are one of the older teams in the league with an average age over 28 and the Suns are one of the younger with a 25 average age. The veterans of the Mavs such as Nowitzki, Marion and Vince Carter are all over the age of 35 with Marion and Nowitzki playing more than 40 minutes last night. If the Suns can turn this into a fast-paced back and forth game they could run them out of the gym.