The Suns kick off a cruel four-games-in-five-days stretch tonight in Dallas.

The Good Guys: The Phoenix Suns, 11-8 and fresh off another whooping of the Pacers.

The Bad Guys: The Dallas Mavericks, 15-5 and last seen escaping Milwaukee with a buzzer-beating win.

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas

When: 6:30PM Arizona time

The Tube: Fox Sports AZ

After a road-trip consisting of Eastern turkeys and a brief homestand consisting of winnable games, the Suns will be in survival mode for the next five days. Survival as in don't get hurt, try and stay competitive, and try not to lose all four of these games.

This is not the proper prescription for a Suns team that is still waiting for that first stretch of really good basketball to kick in, and unfortunately they might have to be content with trading blows for the next month and more. From tonight to January 13, the Suns will play 15 of 21 games on the road.

Last year's push up the standings began on game 19. This time around we may have to wait a bit longer.

But hey, the Suns and Mavs always seem to play each other close, so turn that frown upside-down and enjoy tonight's game.

Starting Lineups

Phoenix Suns Dallas Mavericks
G - Eric Bledsoe G - Jameer Nelson
G - Goran Dragic G - Monta Ellis
F - P.J. Tucker F - Chandler Parsons
F - Markieff Morris F - Dirk Nowitzki
C - Miles Plumlee C - Tyson Chandler

The Opponent

The Mavs might be the only team with a more crowded situation at point guard than the Suns, with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea all battling for minutes, and this is without the injured Raymond Felton. None of this really matters, though, since the real meat of the Mavs' attack is Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and the uber-efficient Brandan Wright.

Dallas is a venerable buzzsaw on offense, detailed here by Grantland's Zach Lowe. They have surpassed 130 points twice already this season, and have yet to lose a single game in which they scored over 100 (15-0). They are also 0-5 when scoring 100 points or fewer, so the Suns' best chance to steal a win might be with their 12th-ranked defense.

(yes, a 12th-ranked defense is worth noting in Phoenix)

On the flipside for the Mavs, they don't defend all that well (16th overall) and are 29th in DRB%. They also allow opponents to shoot an obscene .398 from 3, so this is not a impenetrable fortress by any means. If the Suns can play some D and hit some 3's, they'll have a chance.

Last Matchup, L 98-101

The Suns dropped a crucial game in Dallas on 4/12/14 after leading for most of the way. This all but cemented their exclusion from the playoffs, as their only chance at that point was beating the Grizzlies, which is impossible. Eric Bledsoe notched 29 points on 15 shots. Goran Dragic dragged his damaged ankle around the court for 40 painful-to-watch minutes, scoring only 13 points on 18 shots.

Injury Report

Isaiah Thomas is currently listed as questionable; we'll add an update if/when one comes along. The Mavs are only missing Raymond Felton. In other words, they are 100% for tonight's game.

UPDATE: Thomas is out again, per Paul Coro.

Prediction

The Suns can steal a win if Dragic and Bledsoe can carry over their virtuoso performance from Tuesday's game. The Suns should have even firepower to keep it close in the fourth, especially if Thomas can make his return from injury. This Mavericks team is just too dang good at getting easy buckets though, so it'll take a special night for the Suns to escape with a win.

See you at tip-off. In the meantime, enjoy some vintage Suns/Mavs from 2005.

After spending 20-plus years working in the NBA, Bubba Burrage was named general manager of the Bakersfield Jam when the D-League team became a partner with the Phoenix Suns this summer. Before...

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No more sub-.500 teams or Eastern Conference foes. The Phoenix Suns begin a three-game road trip against Western Conference Elite on Friday night with a visit to the Dallas Mavericks, one of the...

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I've wrapped up your Christmas shopping for you.

Phoenix Suns Basketball Phone

Man cave must have right here. Call your friends to discuss that Isaiah Thomas trade that's not going to happen this season. Bidding starts at $50, buy it now for $70, shipping runs another $14.50.

Stephon Marbury Bobblehead

Certainly one of the cheaper bobbleheads you'll find for sale. Also one of the lesser desired depending on who your talking to. It's yours for about $20 after shipping.

Phoenix Suns Fan Items

Stocking stuffers for the young Suns fan in your life right here. Night light, crayon set, basketball shoe keychain, and a "small colorful leatherette ball." All yours for ten bucks after shipping.

Autographed Charles Barkley Book

"Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?" Signed by the Chuckster. First edition. In your library for $58 after shipping.

Phoenix Suns Santa Claus Figurine

You thought he wore red and white didn't you? No, clearly Santa is a Suns fan. And I refuse to believe they made these for every team in the Association. Bidding starts at $6, shipping is another $8.55.

Dan Majerle Used Locker Name Plate

Phoenix-Suns-DAN-MAJERLE-Team-Used-Locker-NamePlate

Description of the item reads that this came from the Furtado Center. Straight from the seller:

"The Furtado Center was the practice facility for all the NBA teams that came to play the Sonics and most recently the WNBA Seattle Storm. These where put on the locker so each player would know what locker was theirs. On the backside of the plate in black pen is the players uniform number. This will come with a LOA from me stating the history." It can be had for $18 after shipping.

Team Used Name Plates

2007-08-Phoenix-Suns-TEAM-USED-Locker-NamePlates-Steve-Nash-14-Others

As soon as I found the Majerle name plate I found these. If you have more to spend, this collection of 15 can be bought for $125 after shipping.

Phoenix Suns Women's Shirt

It's weird and you just have to see it. Funny enough, there's no mention in the description of the above error. If the female fan in your life has a sense of humor, you can probably pick this up for less than 10 bucks.

Phoenix Suns Golf Tees and Ball Markers

Another great stocking stuffer here. Included is 48 sets of 4 tees, each with a ball marker. Buy it now for $29.69 after shipping.

Phoenix Suns Leather Jacket

We've featured plenty of jackets on Suns Swag, but never one quite like this. Leather, men's XL, bidding starts at $99, but you can buy it now for $135 plus another $21 to ship.

The Phoenix Suns are preparing for a three game road trip starting against the Dallas Mavericks Friday night, but Gerald Green and Archie Goodwin took a few minutes to have some fun after practice... and by fun I mean dunk contest.

In my opinion, Archie is bringing a knife to a gun fight here... Gerald Green is an other-worldly dunker.

Don't be "that guy" and comment that the team should be focused on more constructive things in practice. The team does plenty of nuts and bolts work. Having some fun is important, too. Love of the game, team bonding... all that happy crap.

Enjoy.

Video courtesy of Suns.com.

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