After a very satisfying win over the Golden State Warriors at home on Monday, the Phoenix Suns will attempt to keep their momentum going as they visit the Dallas Mavericks on the road tonight at 6:30pm MST.
As it stands now, The Suns (2-3) and the Mavericks (2-4) have very similar records...but sometimes stats can be deceiving.
The Suns have losses against the New Orleans Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Only the Thunder are currently considered to be a legit contender. Their best win so far was Monday's game against the Golden State Warriors who are currently 2-3 as well.
On the other hand, the Mavericks' four losses have come against the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, OKC Thunder, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Of all of those teams they lost to, only the Timberwolves could be considered a non-contending opponent at this point (although many consider them at least a borderline playoff team), and their most recent win against the Thunder also shows the Mavericks still have the firepower to bring down even the most talented of teams.
But all hope is not lost...
If there is one thing we know for sure about the Suns, it's that as Steve Nash goes, so goes the team. So it should be no surprise that Nash's best overall game so far this season was also the team's best game, and the only game they have been able to crack the century mark offensively in thus far as well. In that last game against the Warriors, Nash scored 21 points and dished out 9 assists while committing only two turnovers...and not surprisingly, the starting unit finally outplayed the bench. Coincidence? I think not.
If the Suns are going to be able to pull out an upset win in Dallas tonight, this is exactly the type of performance the Suns are going to need once more from their aging two-time MVP. In addition, there are other areas of strength that the Suns must capitalize on and use to their advantage if they are going to get a win in Dallas.
Read on after the jump for a breakdown of what to expect...
After a slow start to the season against some fairly tough opponents, the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks have seemingly begun to pick up steam, especially with their most recent win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Despite their record the Dallas Mavericks are still chock full of talent and should still be considered one of the odds on favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals. While Dallas lost their solidifying force in the post, Tyson Chandler, in free agency to the Knicks, and their spark-plug off the bench, J.J. Barea, in free agency to the Timberwolves, they kept their core of talent in Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and Shawn Marion, and have also acquired some other talented additions such as Lamar Odom and Vince Carter (don't laugh).
So how do the Suns match-up with the Mavs?
For one, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are both experienced point guards who can shoot the ball and find the open shooter. Nash has an edge offensively while Kidd has the edge defensively. This one's a wash.
Next we have Jared Dudley vs. Jason Terry at the two guard. Delonte West is technically the starter but Terry gets the bulk of the minutes and West also helps back up Kidd at the point. Dudley is a very good player all around but Terry brings instant offense, speed, and clutch shooting. Advantage Mavs.
At small forward we have Grant Hill vs. Shawn Marion. Both of these players are strong defensively and decent rebounders for their position. On offense, Grant is a better shooter while Marion has more athleticism, but both can score. This one's a wash
The power forward position matches Channing Frye up against Dirk Nowitzki. This one's not even close..Neither are great defenders but Dirk is one of the best scorers in the league while Channing is currently shooting 23% from the field and struggling to find his shot. Strong advantage Mavs
Marcin Gortat and Brendan Haywood will compete at the starting center position. Gortat has been impeded by a fractured right thumb, but he's still averaging 9.2 points, 5.8 rbs, and 1.6 blks in approximately 22 min a game. Haywood on the other hand is averaging 5.2 pts, 5.7 rbs, and 1.0 blks in approximately 19 minutes a game. Gortat is simply a better player than Haywood both offensively and defensively, even with a broken thumb. Advantage Suns.
As for the bench, we will see Hakim Warrick, Markieff Morris, Robin Lopez, Shannon Brown, and Ronnie Price vs. Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West, and Ian Mahinmi. Believe it or not, Vince Carter has actualy been playing very well for Dallas thus far (we'll see how he holds up as the season progresses though). Still, when the Suns' bench is playing well they can be very effective. Slight advantage Suns.
So final count we have things pretty even overall. However, the advantage of Dirk Novitzki over Channing Frye is a substantial one, and if the Suns want to be able to win this game I believe they will need some help from some key players and positions.
As I mentioned above, if Steve Nash is on then this team can still compete with anyone. The Suns will need MVSteve to show up with guns a blazing tonight if they are going to have a chance.
Secondly, the Suns need to fully utilize their biggest advantage which I believe is at the center position. Gortat and Lopez are a much better tandem than Haywood and Mahinmi...and if the Suns can find a way to score early and often in the paint while also grabbing more rebounds and playing solid defensively, they could dominate in the paint offensively; and force Dallas into low percentage shots while not allowing second-chance opportunities.
And lastly, they will need some additional scoring off the bench. Hakim Warrick and Markeiff Morris have been very productive thus far, and we will need their best along with some additional production hopefully from Shannon Brown or Ronnie Price tonight to match the likes of Terry, Odom, and Carter. If the Suns can get quality play from Nash, Gortat/Lopez, and their bench, I believe the Suns have a good chance to pull out an upset in Dallas tonight.