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The Daily Sweat: Suns, who have lost once in 2022, may be better than last season

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When a team has a great season and comes up just short of a championship, the next step isn't always forward.

The Phoenix Suns look better this season, after falling two wins short of an NBA title last season. They're 34-9 this season, on pace to blow past last season's impressive 51-21 record. It will only matter if they can make a similar postseason run, but there's no reason they can't.

Phoenix will try to continue its hot streak at the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night in the first game of TNT's doubleheader. The Suns are 3.5-point road favorites at BetMGM.

The Suns' record is even more impressive when you consider their start to the season. They were 1-3. It's not exactly the Super Bowl hangover, but losing in the NBA Finals after taking an 0-2 lead seemed to be carrying over. They've rarely lost since. Since Jan. 1, the Suns are 7-1. They covered the spread in six of those eight games. They also played three of those games without Cameron Johnson, who has had a nice improvement this season.

The Suns are mostly known for their great guard play, but defense has been a big reason they are off to a fantastic start. Before Wednesday's games their defense ranked second in the NBA's advanced efficiency ratings. The Suns are going to hit shots. If they can defend at a top-three level, they can win a championship.

The Mavericks are a good test. They won nine of their previous 10 before playing Wednesday night. They're finally healthy, and they have the guards to stay with the Suns. It's a fun matchup. If the Mavericks win it'll be impressive, because the Suns look like they might be the best team in the NBA this season.

Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns are off to a great start this season. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns are off to a great start this season. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:

Two other NBA games

It's a short three-game NBA slate. The Pelicans play at the Knicks, with the Knicks as 3.5-point favorites. And the Indiana Pacers, off a win over the Lakers on Wednesday, go north to take on Golden State in the second game of the TNT doubleheader. The Warriors are 11.5-point favorites.

Any good college games?

There are seven top-25 teams in action. Perhaps the best game is Purdue, which beat Illinois in double overtime on Monday, at Indiana. Purdue is a 3.5-point favorite, which is tempting but it is hard to win on the road in college hoops, especially against an in-state rival like the Hoosiers.

What else is on the schedule?

There are nine NHL games and the highlight is the Washington Capitals at the Boston Bruins in a matchup of two strong Eastern Conference teams. The Bruins are -165 favorites. Also, The American Express golf tournament starts on Thursday with a good field, for those who like betting golf.

What's the best bet?

I'll take the Mavericks getting points at home. It's scary going against a hot Phoenix team, but Dallas is playing very well lately and can keep it close.