Two hot teams get a double dose of each other when the visiting Dallas Mavericks open a two-game streak Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns.
The Mavericks have taken five of their six wins and the Suns nine in a row as they continue a Phoenix-dominated rivalry in recent times.
The Suns swept away last year’s three-game streak, 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 tied at 1:56, 3:41 and 55.7 seconds, respectively, before the Suns beat the Mavericks each time.
Like this week’s clashes, the last two games of last season were held back-to-back at the same venue, this time in Dallas.
The Mavericks start the streak Wednesday-Friday unsure of the status of star Luka Doncic, who turned his left ankle late in Monday’s 111-10 home win over the Denver Nuggets. He missed the last 44 seconds.
Doncic has led Dallas’ rise in the last six games, averaging 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 8.8 assists. But Kristaps Porzingis was also a key contributor.
The oft-injured tall man, who had missed five straight games with back pain, has returned to score 20 or more points in four of Dallas’ last five games. He set a season-high 32 in a win Saturday in San Antonio, then 29 on Monday against the Nuggets.
“I will continue to build, continue to be more rhythmic,” Porzingis promised after the victory. “We’re going to take off from here.”
Porzingis missed two of three games against the Suns last season before coming back to contribute 19 points and 10 rebounds in the second half of the February back-to-back game (109-108 win over Phoenix).
Dallas’ only loss in its last six games came last Wednesday in Chicago. The Suns, meanwhile, haven’t been beaten since the Sacramento Kings surprised them at home on October 27.
Phoenix got a big game from their big man in Monday’s 99-96 win at Minnesota. Returning from a five-game absence due to a contusion to his right shin, Deandre Ayton registered 22 points and 12 rebounds in his duel with Karl-Anthony Towns to help the victory.
Ayton later admitted he knew he should play a big part in the game because he was well rested as his teammates played on the second night of a game in a row.
“I made sure on my side; I tried everything,” he said. “Everyone told me that I brought the energy through the door.”
Ayton averaged 13.7 points and 14.0 rebounds in three wins over the Mavericks last season.
The doubles schedule from the same opponent and from the same venue is the first of the season for each team. The Mavericks have another Sunday and Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
Dallas won a sweep, was swept twice (including home pair against Phoenix) and split a pair three times during their experience with the old-school schedule last season. The Suns recorded two winning sweeps, one losing sweep and had two divisions last season.
–Field level media
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