In the biggest game of the year to date the Dallas Mavericks (48-32) take on the Phoenix Suns (47-32) trying to keep their grip on the 7th seed in the West. The Suns are on the second night of a two-game set where last night they blew a 21-point lead to the San Antonio Spurs without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
The Mavs are 9-4 this year versus teams in second games of a back to back. With each game holding playoff implications they’d love to make it 10-4.
The Game at Hand:
The Mavs get the Suns tonight and the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday to close out the season. Dallas leads these two teams by ½ a game and currently have the 7th seed. This clearly means that these two next games are absolute must wins. While winning only one game clinches a playoff birth, it could result in the 8-seed and playing the dreaded Spurs. San Antonio beat Dallas for the ninth consecutive time on Thursday, playing them would not be ideal.
The Suns guards are quick and explosive and will be a challenge for the Mavs. It feels like I’m a broken record but again it will be up to our defense to not let the Suns score at will. A win tonight would be a huge lift, since we do have a break until Wednesday’s date with Memphis.
Keys to the Game:
1. Three Point Defense:
The Mavs defense against the three point shot was just not good enough on Thursday. The Spurs were 16-34 from three and the Suns are not short of three point shooters. Bledsoe, Dragic occasionally, Channing Frye, and Gerald Green all have a good shot and if we let them shoot wide open threes that doesn’t bode well for our chances. Closing out on good shooters and rotating properly will be key.
2. Contain Eric Bledsoe:
It’s no secret, Jose Calderon isn’t known for his defense. Speedy point guards like Bledsoe pose Calderon quite the challenge. Similar to players such as Ty Lawson or Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe is explosive and can take it to the basket and shoot an effective three point shot. With Goran Dragic also on the court these Mavs guards are in trouble tonight. Not letting these guards penetrate and get into the lane every possession must be accomplished.
Notice these keys that I do are almost never about offense. I’ve never been concerned about the Mavs offense; it is the defense that will get us that seventh seed.
Matchup of the Night:
My main matchup of the night is Bledsoe and Dragic vs. the Dallas guards. Bledsoe recorded 30 points 11 rebounds and 9 assists in the Spurs loss Saturday night so at least containing him will be huge. If Dragic cannot play, enter Gerald Green. Green has been impressive all season and can post a huge game any given night.
“If you don’t like this, you’ve got to get into another line of work. You work all year for opportunities to play in games like this.”
– Rick Carlisle
When and Where:
Tip-Off starts at 7:30 CST and will take place at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Game time 8 PM CST on TXA 21.
7. Dallas Mavericks (48-32) | Next Up – PHO, @MEM
8. Memphis Grizzlies (47-32) | Next Up – @LAL, @PHX, DAL
9. Phoenix Suns (47-32) | Next Up – @DAL, MEM, @SAC
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