Make or break? Mavs began an unrecoverable skid in Phoenix last season, but this road trip provides ‘a great opportunity

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Make or break? Mavs began an unrecoverable skid in Phoenix last season, but this road trip provides ‘a great opportunity

Post by admin » Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:54 am

How pivotal? Recall that last season’s Mavericks, after a dreadful 2-7 start, got hot, improved to 15-11 and had won five of their last six games entering a Dec. 13 game at Phoenix.

The 99-89 thumping Dallas received from the Suns triggered a six-game losing streak that dropped the Mavericks below .500. For good, it turned out.

Guess what? This season’s Mavericks (11-6) have won five of their last six games and on Friday night they return to Talking Stick Resort Arena, where they have lost four straight to, let’s face it, bad Phoenix teams that finished last in the West each of the last two seasons.

“A great opportunity,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle calls this road trip, which also includes games Sunday against the Lakers (16-2) and next Tuesday against New Orleans (6-12).

And this season’s Suns (8-9), despite the 25-game suspension of Deandre Ayton for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, have been no bargain under first-year coach Monty Williams, who along with Carlisle has been prominently mentioned among early NBA Coach of the Year candidates.

“Team is a lot different,” Carlisle said, citing in particular the addition of Ricky Rubio, the first true point guard Phoenix has had in several years. “Style is different. A lot more toughness. Hard-playing guys. They’re hungry.”

The Mavericks are coming off Tuesday’s 15-point home loss to the Clippers, a game in which they were outrebounded by 10 and surrendered 17 offensive rebounds, 13 of them in the first half.

The Clippers game and the 14-point win at Houston began a difficult gauntlet for Dallas to close out 2019.

Between now and the New Year’s Eve game at Oklahoma City, the Mavericks will play 16 times. Ten of those games are on the road, including the Dec. 12 game against Detroit in Mexico City.

Eight of the 16 opponents are over .500, including the Lakers (twice) and the current top five teams in the East: Milwaukee, Boston, Toronto, Miami and Philadelphia. And up-and-coming opponents such as Phoenix and Minnesota.

“It’s a league that, overall, is making progress,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to keep pace with that.”

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