Normally, visiting the Phoenix Suns would have felt like a struggle for supremacy as Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks were near the top of the league.
However, their shootout at the Footprint Center on Thursday threatens to be the last of a bad form run for Dallas, who not only has a bad track record at Phoenix, but whose form falls off a cliff in 2023.
Their win over the Houston Rockets in their first game of the year was their seventh straight, but they’ve since held a 3-8 record, including back-to-back defeats at home against the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards. last two exits
Head coach Jason Kidd recently called for the improvement of his defense, whose standards have fallen this season.
After losing 130 points to the Atlanta Hawks last week, Kidd said: “It doesn’t matter if you do that in this league, Luka or Kareem. [Abdul-Jabbar] or LeBron [James], you will lose. No matter how many points you get, you will always be short.
“So we’re going to score 120 points until we make a better effort to play defense and understand what we need to do, but we’re going to give up 130, 140. We can give up 150 one night but we’re like, ‘It’ll be good because we scored, so it doesn’t look too bad. “
The Suns are recovering from their own bad run, though.
Last year’s Western Conference winners started the season with 15 wins in the first 21 games and were successful in just six of the next 24 games.
Four wins in the bounce since then have sparked hopes of revival at Phoenix, and they will be hoping to be taken advantage of by a vulnerable Mavericks.
After his impressive performance in a 128-97 win against the Charlotte Hornets, Cameron Johnson said: “That’s life – you weather the storms. Things don’t always go your way. We’ve learned that over the past few years. Tuck your tail, run, sell the farm, forever.” It doesn’t mean hide.
“We have a lot of confidence in our group. From head to toe.”
Monty Williams’ men will have that confidence when they welcome the Mavs in Arizona.
Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul
Veteran Paul certainly played a central role in the 112-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies with 22 points and 11 assists before he had 11 more assists against the Hornets.
With Devin Booker out of the game, Phoenix had to split the fortune when it came to collecting points, and Paul played a key role in ensuring that others find those points when appropriate.
If Deandre Ayton (his illness) disappears again, it will probably fall to the 37-year-old player to take another step.
Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic
The Suns are 20th in the league in points scored this season, but the Mavs are one place behind. This seems pretty crazy when you consider that they have one of the best players in the league on their roster and he’s had another productive season.
In 44 games, Doncic led the league with 33.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game.
The Slovenian player will need the help of his Phoenix teammates and much more than he did when 41 against the Wizards was not enough to win.
BATTLE GREAT – Can the Mavs defense finally succeed without an obvious threat from the Suns?
As mentioned, Dallas struggled to prevent an opponent from scoring points this season, from the second-best defense in the regular season last year to 12th so far this season.
One factor they can count on, though, is that the Suns are without Booker and thus average no more than 17.5 points per game (Ayton).
HEAD TO HEAD
Before Dallas beat Phoenix 130-111 in early December, the Suns had won 9-1 in their last 10 home games against the Mavs and had 10 straight wins against them.