The Suns made a big opening statement on their five-game homestand, Wednesday, beating the Lakers by scoring a whopping 121 points.
Tonight’s game could be an even bigger one given the implications. Phoenix is up one in theloss column on Dallas in the standings, and the Mavericks will surely be looking to make that up by canceling out the Suns’ victory in the previous meeting between the two teams.
Can Phoenix build on Wednesday’s momentum? Here’s five keys that will determine the answer.
Is Scoring Punch Back?
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek admitted that Wednesday’s offensive outburst came against a lackluster Laker defense. That being said, 121 points is still 121 points.
The only team to allow even more this season? The Mavericks. That game was decidedly different than Wednesday’s breakout. The Suns drowned Dallas with 15 three-pointers. On Wednesday, Phoenix only needed four.
The Suns haven’t scored consecutive 100-point games since Dec. 30. If the previous meeting was any indication, that could change tonight.
Is Dallas Angry?
Chances are the Mavs are sick of other teams scoring on them. Phoenix blitzed them earlier this season, and Dallas is coming off a 129-127 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday.
That defeat was even more painful. The Mavs gave up a 17-point lead with less than five minutes left, ending their three-game win streak in embarrassing fashion.
Small Ball Battle
Dallas big men Sam Dalembert and DeJuan played a combined 17 minutes against the Suns in their last meeting, electing to go with a smaller lineup the majority of the game.
That’s just fine with Hornacek and the Suns. Small ball lends itself to speed and the running game, something the Suns’ head coach can never get enough of.
It also helped Phoenix on the glass, where they outrebounded Dallas 45-36 in their previous meeting.
Speaking of Rebounds…
Can the team-wide energy on the boards continue? Phoenix snagged 53 rebounds on Wednesday thanks to six different players grabbing at least six boards apiece
Ironically, it was 6-foot-3 Goran Dragic who led the effort, coming up with a team-high 10 boards.
Hornacek has said the guards need help in the overall boxing-out effort, especially at the mid-range areas. If Wednesday was the start of a trend, Phoenix could move out of the bottom five in the league in rebounds given up per game.
Will Dragic Stretch Continue?
This isn’t to say the Slovenian playmaker has had a bad stretch at any point this season. He’s simply playing even better right now.
Over his last five games, Dragic is averaging 21.6 points, 7.2 assists & 6.0 rebounds per contest. He’s shooting 46.2 percent from downtown in that span.
Don’t be surprised, however, if he forgoes his own scoring if Monta Ellis is checking Gerald Green tonight. Green torched his smaller defender (Kendall Marshall, 6-4) on Wednesday, and will see a similar advantage tonight when he is guarded by either Monta Ellis or Jose Calderon.