Two hot teams get a double-dose of one another when the visiting Dallas Mavericks open a two-game sequence Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns.
The Mavericks have won five of six and the Suns nine in a row as they continue a rivalry that has been dominated by Phoenix of late.
The Suns swept last year’s three-game season series, giving them six straight wins dating back almost two years to a 120-113 Mavericks victory in Phoenix.
Last year’s duels were about as close as they get, with the games having been tied with 1:56, 3:41 and 55.7 seconds remaining, respectively, before the Suns out-finished the Mavericks each time.
Like the matchups this week, the final two contests last season were played consecutively at the same site, that time in Dallas.
The Mavericks begin the Wednesday-Friday sequence unsure of the status of star Luka Doncic, who turned his left ankle late in Monday’s 111-101 home win over the Denver Nuggets. He sat out the final 44 seconds.
Doncic has led the Dallas surge in the last six games, averaging 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 8.8 assists. But Kristaps Porzingis has been a key contributor as well.
The oft-injured big man, who had missed five consecutive games with back pain, has returned to put up 20 or more points in four of Dallas’ last five contests. He had a season-best 32 in a win Saturday at San Antonio, then 29 on Monday against the Nuggets.
“I’ll keep building, keep getting more in a rhythm,” Porzingis promised after the win. “We’re going to take off from here.”
Porzingis missed two of the three games against the Suns last season before returning to contribute 19 points and 10 rebounds on the second half of the February back-to-back (a 109-108 Phoenix victory).
Dallas’ only loss in its last six games occurred last Wednesday at Chicago. The Suns, meanwhile, haven’t been beaten since the Sacramento Kings surprised them at home on Oct. 27.
Phoenix got a big game from its big man in Monday’s 99-96 win at Minnesota. Returning from a five-game absence due to bruised right shin, Deandre Ayton put up 22 points and 12 rebounds in his head-to-head with Karl-Anthony Towns to aid in the win.
Ayton admitted afterward he knew he’d have to play an important role in the game because he was well rested while his teammates were playing the second night of a back-to-back.
“I made sure on my end; I tried everything,” he assured. “Everybody (was telling) me I brought the energy coming out the gate.”
Ayton averaged 13.7 points and 14.0 rebounds in the three wins over the Mavericks last season.
The same-opponent, same-site double-header is the first of the season for each team. The Mavericks have another Sunday and Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
Dallas won one sweep, got swept twice (including the pair at home against Phoenix), and split a pair three times in their experience with the old-school scheduling last season. The Suns recorded two winning sweeps, one losing sweep, and had two splits last season.
–Field Level Media