A day after blowing a 15-point lead, at home, to a shorthanded Lakers team that played the previous night, the Mavericks returned to practice Tuesday, after which guard J.J. Barea made this declaration:
“Last night, we can’t go lower than that.”
Can’t they? They’ll find out Wednesday night because Western Conference cellar dweller Phoenix comes to American Airlines Center.
Like the Lakers on Monday, the Suns will be playing the second night of a back-to-back. Like the Lakers, who had lost three straight entering the Dallas game, the Suns are in a rut, having lost six straight games entering their home game against Sacramento on Tuesday.
Yet like the Lakers, who have defeated Dallas four straight times, the Suns have a baffling mastery over the Mavericks, having won seven straight and eight of the last nine meetings.
Mind you, Phoenix is 2-0 against Dallas this season and 7-32 against everyone else. Last season the Suns were 3-0 against the Mavericks and 18-61 versus the rest of the NBA.
“It’s been a tough matchup,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Tuesday, specifically citing Suns Devin Booker and T.J. Warren as difficult to defend. “We’ve got to solve those things, and their role players have played well, too.”
Said Barea: “They look forward to us. I don’t know what it is . . . It just happens. You feel more comfortable against some teams than others.”
Shooting guard Booker averages 24.8 points and 6.9 assists for the Suns, but it’s hard to say he’s the primary reason Phoenix excels against Dallas.
Booker had 35 points and seven assists in Phoenix’s season-opening home win over Dallas, but he didn’t play in the Suns’ 99-89 Dec. 13 home win over Dallas. He also only played in only one of the teams’ three meetings last season.
While going 0-5 against Phoenix the past two seasons, the Mavericks have averaged only 93 points.
Given their recent history with the Suns, and given that Barea described Monday’s second half against the Lakers, in which Dallas was outscored 53-30, as “ugly” and “awful” and “embarrassing for the fans,” it seems unlikely Dallas will take this game lightly.
“(Wednesday), I don’t care who we play; I think it’s about us,” Barea said. “I think if we play hard, bring a lot of energy and everybody plays their role, I think we’ll be fine.”
Mavericks backcourt is hurting
Guard Dennis Smith Jr. and forward Luka Doncic are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game.
Smith was unable to practice on Tuesday, due to what the Mavericks describe as mid-back tightness. Doncic’s injury is described as a lower back strain, but he practiced on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s game marks the season’s midway point for Dallas. At 18-22, the Mavericks have lost three straight games and 11 of their last 14.
At last season’s midpoint Dallas was 13-28.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News