Luka Dončić got his revenge game against Trae Young as the Mavericks beat the Hawks on Wednesday night for their 11th straight home win. They won’t get to do much celebrating as they travel to Phoenix to take on the 4-24 Suns on Thursday night. The Suns have lost 10 straight straight games coming into the contest. Dallas has won eight of their last ten games. Here are three things to keep an eye on during Thursday’s contest.
The return of the GOAT
A big man having ankle surgery is always a cause for concern. But a big man that is 40-years-old and in his 21st season after having ankle surgery in the off season is even more concerning. However, Dirk Nowitzki has persevered, as he always does, and should be available to play against the Suns according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. It will be Nowitzki’s first game this season. Mavs fans shouldn’t expect him to play too many minutes, especially since this team is rolling right along without him. Dirk, in his signature modest way, mentioned that he doesn’t want to mess up the chemistry the bench unit has. Regardless of how many minutes he plays it will be an awesome sight to see the Dallas and NBA legend cooking the bench players in his ripe old age. Father time is undefeated, but he is going to have to wait a little longer to take Dirk away from the Mavs.
Devin Booker will miss his sixth straight game on Thursday night. The Suns 156 million dollar man is nursing a hamstring injury that he suffered in a loss against the Lakers. De’Anthony Melton has soaked up the point guard minutes in Booker’s absence. Melton has averaged 14 points, 5 assists, and 2.5 turnovers in his last 4 games. He will have to match up against Dennis Smith Jr if DSJ is cleared to play. DSJ has sat out the past four games due to a sprained right wrist. Rookie Jalen Brunson has filled in nicely for Smith Jr. over that time. With the exception of Wednesday night’s five point two assist game, Brunson has scored over ten points and handed out at least three assists during his time as a starter.
While the home court has been kind to the Mavs the road has not. Dallas is 12-2 at home and only 2-9 on the road. They are averaging 106 points on the road compared to 113 points at home. Their opponents score 113 points while Dallas is the away team and only 103 when Dallas is the home team. The visit to Phoenix is the first of a long stretch of games where Dallas is the away team. Over their next 13 games Dallas is on the road for 10 of them. This stretch will be a true test to see if this team is a legit playoff contender. There is no better way to reverse their road woes than matching up against a team that only has four wins.
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