Setting the Table: Phoenix Suns (Game 47)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 1, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The road is a lonely place, and the Dallas Mavericks (19-27) head to desert to take on the Phoenix Suns (16-30). Phoenix is coming off an inspiring game as they rallied for a 92-86 victory over the Los Angeles Lakes in former point guard Steve Nash’s return to Arizona. Dallas is looking to rebound after two tough losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors. It is expected that Dallas with be without the services of Dirk Nowitzki as he is dealing with a strained right adductor. They are also without Chris Kaman as he is back in Dallas getting treatment for his concussion.

The game will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks. The Mavericks are 2-8 in the first half of a back-to-back and 3-7 in the second half of a back-to-back this season. The Mavericks have 16 back-to-backs in 2012-13, with only one stretch of four games in five nights. In total, 10 back-to-backs are on the road, three begin at home and conclude on the road and three are road-to-home. Dallas played 22 back-to-backs in 2011-12, going 7-15 in the first half and 13-9 in the second half of those back-to-backs.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Suns.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks have won 10-of-11 and 13 of the last 15 regular-season meetings with the Suns. The Suns have taken 18 of the last 30 matchups in Phoenix, but the Mavericks have won four of the last five in The Valley of the Sun.

Dallas has taken both meetings between the two teams this season (won 97-94 at Phoenix on Dec. 6, 2012, and 110-95 at home on Jan. 27, 2013). Shawn Marion appeared in his 1,000th career regular-season game against Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2013. He became the 107th player in NBA history to reach the milestone. With a jumper at the 5:38 mark of the third quarter against Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2013, Dirk Nowitzki passed Allen Iverson (24,368) for 18th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Marion scored 29 points against Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2013, which tied his highest scoring game as a Maverick (29 at Minnesota Mar. 8, 2010).

Nowitzki appeared in his 1,000th career regular-season game vs. Phoenix on Jan. 4, 2012, becoming the 98th player in league history to achieve the milestone. Nowitzki (right knee surgery) was unavailable for Dallas for the game against the Suns, but recorded 18 points and seven boards in the win over Phoenix on Jan. 27, 2013.

O.J. Mayo is averaging 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 37.5 minutes in two starts against the Suns this season. Shawn Marion is averaging 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 26.5 minutes in two starts against Phoenix in 2012-13. Nowitzki (7-14 FGs), Mayo (13-26 FGs) and Marion (14-28 FGs) are all shooting 50 percent from the
field against Phoenix this year.

It’s a Small World:

Shawn Marion was selected by Phoenix in the first round (ninth overall pick) of the 1999 NBA Draft and played for the Suns from 1999-2008, garnering Western Conference All-Star honors four times (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). Vince Carter played in 51 games (41 starts) for the Suns during the 2010-11 season, averaging 13.5 points. He was waived by Phoenix and was signed by Dallas. Carter and Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter were teammates on the Toronto Raptors in 2002-03.

Suns forward Wesley Johnson is from Corsicana, Texas, and played for the Dallas Mustangs AAU team. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle coached Suns center Jermaine O’Neal for three seasons in Indiana from 2003-06. Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith was formerly the strength and conditioning coach for the Suns.

Three Keys:

1. Let Marion be Marion. He registered his ninth double-double of the season (413th career) with 18 points and a season-high 17 rebounds in 35 minutes at Golden State. It was tied for the most rebounds by a Maverick in a game this season (Kaman had 17 rebounds vs. Golden State on Nov. 19, 2012). Marion’s previous high rebounding game this year was 14 at Washington on New Year’s Day. Marion became the first Dallas player to have at least 18 points and 17 rebounds in a game since Tyson Chandler had 18 points and 18 boards vs. Washington on Jan. 31, 2011 (exactly two years ago to the day). He scored 18-plus points for the sixth time in his last 10 games. He also posted his 10th double-digit rebounding game of the year. Marion is rolling, so let him do his thing.

2. Don’t let a trend start with Michael Beasley. The enigmatic Sun had his best game of the season in their last game against the Lakers. Beasley finished with a game-high 27 points, 17 after halftime, 10 in the fourth quarter, and eight in the final five-plus minutes when the Suns turned a seven-point deficit into a six-point win. Beasley also added five steals for the Suns, who forced 20 turnovers from the Lakers and held them to 86 points over, just 13 in the fourth quarter. Consistency is one of the last things you think of when you think of Beasley, so don’t let him have a second strong performance in a row.

3. Find the clutch gene. Dallas has struggled to find ways to win, especially in their last two games. Stretching it out to a bigger scope, six of Dallas’ last seven games have been decided by six points or less (Dallas has gone 3-4 in its last seven games). They went 7-8 in January and had seven of those losses come by six points or less. The other loss was an overtime loss at Miami. In addition, four of those losses came by three points or less including last two games. The Mavericks are now 7-12 in games when game is within three points with 30 seconds or less.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.