Inside Report: Mavericks-Suns preview — Streaking Mavs entering Phoenix in search of third W over Suns
Inside Report: Mavericks-Jazz recap — Mavs sweep through Jazz after big fourth quarter
Earl K. Sneed previews Sunday night's nationally-televised matchup between the Mavericks and the Suns, as the Dallas team tries to wrap up one of three back-to-backs on its current road trip with a victory to run its winning streak to four.
PHOENIX — One down and five to go.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the Mavericks (51-21) began their six-game, 10-day road trip victoriously Saturday night in Salt Lake City, sweeping the shorthanded Jazz in the four-game season series for the first time ever after a monster fourth quarter led to a 94-77 final verdict.
But now the task becomes a little bit more difficult for the Mavericks, as they journey to Phoenix for Sunday night’s nationally-televised showdown against the Suns to conclude one of three back-to-backs on Dallas’ longest road trip of the season.
“[Saturday night's win] is the first game on this long road trip. We’ve got five more to go, and we needed the first game,” forward Shawn Marion, who became the 118th member of the 15,000-point club in the game, said after the win in Utah. “The first game is the hardest one to get sometimes and we got it. Now, we’re going on to play Phoenix [Sunday night] and they’re a good team. They’re a good team at home. They’re still trying to push for a playoff spot, so we know what we’ve got to do.”
With the Suns (36-35) still three games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference playoff tree and the Mavs a full game back of the Lakers for the No. 2 seed, Sunday night’s matchup could have significance for both ballclubs as the battle for postseason positioning continues. But that just may give the Mavs an edge, according to coach Rick Carlisle, after coming out of a heated exchange with the Jazz unscathed yet battle-tested.
“Every game on this trip is gonna be like this — desperate teams fighting for their playoff lives or playoff positioning and very emotional and crowds that are really into it. And I loved it. I thought it was great,” Carlisle said after Saturday night’s victory.
But if the Mavs are going to collect their fourth victory overall and move to 3-0 in the four-game season series with the Suns then a couple of things may have to change first.
The Mavs admit that they can’t afford to carelessly surrender unforced turnovers against the fast-breaking Suns, as they did in the game versus Utah, when the Dallas team overcame 19 turnovers which led to 12 Jazz points at the other end. After having to rely on a big fourth-quarter charge, in which Dallas outscored Utah 36-17 led by sixth man Jason Terry and his game-high 22 points on just 6-of-7 shooting and 4-for-5 from 3-point range, the squad will try to make things easier on itself against ex-Maverick Steve Nash and his team of sharpshooters, with the Suns entering the showdown after dropping six of their last 10 games.
“We didn’t think [Saturday night's] game should have been close at all,” Terry said after the win. “You know, we’ve been practicing hard, we’ve been preparing hard, trying to play every game like a playoff game. And [Saturday night] the level of intensity was like the playoffs. But as far as just getting out and getting the lead, it wasn’t happening for us. So, that was kind of frustrating, but we locked in on both ends of the floor and did what we had to do to get the win.”
The Mavericks will try to collect another win in a more convincing fashion 24 hours later, hoping to duplicate a 112-106 road victory on Feb. 17 in the U.S. Airways Center while continuing their recent success against the Suns, as Dallas enters the game with six victories in the last seven outings versus the Phoenix.
Note: Playing on the second night of one of three back-to-backs on the road trip, the Mavericks head into Phoenix for a third meeting against the Suns on Sunday night. The Mavericks-Suns will tip off at 9:30 p.m. CT on Saturday night, airing locally on TXA 21 and nationally on ESPN.
The team returns to Dallas to host the Denver Nuggets on April 6. The Nuggets lead the season series 2-1 including a 121-120 win over the Mavs in Denver on Feb. 10. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Great seats are still available and tickets can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
Stay connected with Dallas Mavericks inside reporter Earl K. Sneed by clicking "like" on his Facebook page or by following him on Twitter. Got a question for EKS? Send your question, along with your first name, last initial, city and state with the subject line "Ask EKS" to email@example.com, and you could be published on Mavsfastbreak.com, the Mavericks' new official blog site.
Individual game tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the American Airlines Center box office, on Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287). Get in on the action and be there for all the thrills!
Fans can visit Mavs.com or call 214.747.MAVS for more information and a complete listing of regular-season home games.