For the first time since 1998, the Dallas Mavericks will face the Phoenix Suns with neither Dirk Nowitzki nor Steve Nash on the floor.
And now, for the trivia that matters…
Nobody gave the Suns much hope during the preseason and they haven’t done much to impress. That being said, at 7-12 they aren’t much worse than the Mavericks and they’ve lost 4 in a row.
The Suns are also looking for answers and have already made major lineup changes. Stefan Swiat of Suns.com reports:
“After a 1-5 road trip, Gentry is thinking about tinkering with the rotation once again. The first major move of the season was taking power forward Luis Scola and shooting guard Jared Dudley out of the starting lineup and replacing them with power forward Markieff Morris and shooting guard Shannon Brown.
‘We’re at a point now where we have to find something that’s going to work and work consistently,’ [Coach Alvin] Gentry said.”
Lineup changes? I like the sound of that.
Goran Dragic has done a respectable job since returning from Houston at leads the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg and dishes out 6.6 apg. Marcin Gortat is one of the up-and-coming centers in the league and scores a notch under 12 points and just over 8 rebounds. The Suns have some good available scoring but as their record would indicate, they are generally outscored as well as outrebounded by their opponents. Most notably they shoot only 34% from three-point range while their opponents hit over 42%, so clearly perimeter defense is not a big strength.
There is nothing magical about beating the Suns but if the Mavericks continue to shoot poorly, turn the ball over and fail to grab their share of rebounds they can come up short against Phoenix just as well as any other team. Other than Gortat and his backup Jermaine O’Neal, Phoenix doesn’t have a great deal of interior defense so it would be a good time to push the inside game with Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and BRANDAN WRIGHT. A good night from three-point land should also be a possibility and hopefully Vince Carter can stay hot and maybe it’s an O. J. Mayo “on” night. I think they’re due after last night.