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NBA Wednesday on ABC: Mavs host streaking Suns during NBA Rivals Week

The Suns-Mavericks matchup will be the fourth of 5 straight NBA Wednesdays on ABC primetime during January.

The Mavericks and Suns meet for a second time this season following their NBA on Christmas Day matchup.

When the Suns and Mavs meet on Wednesday (8:30 ET, ABC), five players with a combined 31 All-Star selections will share the court – Kevin Durant (13), Devin Booker (three) and Bradley Beal (three) for Phoenix; Kyrie Irving (eight) and Luka Doncic (four) for Dallas.

That number will likely increase by Thursday when the 2024 All-Star starters are announced on TNT with Durant and Doncic in strong position with the fan vote.

This matchup features two of the top four scoring duos in the NBA so far this season, with both players averaging 25+ points.

  • Tyrese Maxey/Joel Embiid (PHI): 61.9 ppg, 54.5% effective FG%
  • Irving/ Doncic (DAL): 58.8 ppg, 55.7% eFG
  • Damian Lillard/Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 56.5 ppg, 56.7% eFG
  • Booker/Durant (PHX): 56.3 ppg, 56.7% eFG

While most contenders are currently built around a star duo, the Suns made the move in the offseason to add Beal to the Booker/Durant mix to form a Big 3. Injuries prevented the trio from playing together early – appearing in just four of Phoenix’s first 35 games of the season.

However, since Jan. 7, the Big 3 has played eight straight games together and brings a six-game win streak into tonight’s matchup. Dallas has gone 2-4 in their last six games.

A key to the Suns’ recent success has been balance. During this eight-game run, four different players have led the team in scoring — Durant and Booker three times each, Beal once and Grayson Allen once. Durant led the team the past two games, posting his first consecutive 40+ point games in nearly three years (April 29 through May 2, 2021 with Brooklyn).

Another key has been a massive improvement in fourth quarters. Phoenix’s six-game win streak is highlighted by two 20+ point comebacks against the Kings (Jan. 16, down 22) and Bulls (Jan. 22, down 23). As the chart above illustrates, the Suns had ranked last in the league as a fourth-quarter for most of the season, but with more time together, the Big 3 is finding its rhythm for the full 48 minutes.

Playoff history: Part of the reason for this new-look Suns team that has been built over the past year – the acquisition of Durant at the 2023 trade deadline, the hiring of Frank Vogel as head coach, and the Beal trade in the 2023 offseason – stems from a crushing end to the 2022 postseason at the hands of the Mavericks.

The Suns entered the 2022 Playoffs with title aspirations after falling two wins shy of their first NBA championship in the 2021 Finals against Milwaukee. In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Suns took a 3-2 lead before Dallas rallied to win the series in seven games, closing the series with a blowout win in Phoenix.

The Mavs also look different from that 2022 playoff run, which ended in the Western Conference Finals. Jalen Brunson left Dallas for New York in free agency, leading the Mavs to acquire another NYC guard by acquiring Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn.

While the Doncic-Irving combo did not result in a playoff appearance in their brief time together last season, the Mavs resigned Irving and the pair have found more success this season, currently eighth in the West but just a game-back of sixth-place Phoenix entering Wednesday’s matchup