These two teams last played three weeks ago in a game the Mavericks won, 95-88, at the Spectrum. It was during that game that Charles Barkley was ejected for the third time this season after he emphatically argued a charging call.
The Mavericks put five players in double figures that game, including Rolando Blackman (28 points) and Adrian Dantley and Derek Harper (17 each) to even their record at 10-10 on the year.
Blackman has been a steady player all season for the Mavericks, especially during the fourth quarter.
"It's electrifying what he's done at the end of our games," said Adubato. ''Our fans have to enjoy what he's been doing."
What he's been doing is averaging a team-high 22.2 points a game after failing to average more than 20 points the past two seasons.
"He's having an All-Star year," said assistant coach Gar Heard. "Every time we need a big basket, he's right there.
"But I don't see how he can do it all the time. I don't see how he's done it this long. It surprises me every night when the takes over. He just digs down deep."
Blackman dug down again last night, scoring 23 points against the Suns. But Phoenix ended up winning by 17 points to put an end to the Mavericks' two- game winning streak.
You could argue that the Mavericks might be doing a bit better if forward
Roy Tarpley was still in their lineup. Tarpley was suspended from the team indefinitely this season for violating his drug-treatment program. When he left, so did his 17.5 scoring and 16.8 rebounding averages.
But Sam Perkins has played admirably in place of Tarpley. He's averaging 14.5 points a game and scored 18 points last night.
Harper and Dantley are averaging 15.9 and 14.6, respectively.
Dallas will, as usual, need all the firepower it can get against the Sixers. They will especially need a better game from Dantley than the 0-fer he turned in last night against the Suns, when he went scoreless in 19 minutes of play.
But the Mavericks do catch a bit of a break in that Barkley is nursing a sore elbow, while Rick Mahorn is suffering from a bad back. Both, however, are expected to play.
The Sixers finish out their road trip tomorrow night at Houston and then play eight of their remaining 12 games in January at home.
Philadelphia leads the overall series with the Mavericks, 13-6, and is 5-4 against Dallas at Reunion Arena.
BEST OF THE REST
* In women's college basketball, Penn hosts Richmond at the Palestra at 7 p.m.
The Lady Quakers are 3-6 overall and coming off a 21-point loss to Loyola Marymount.
Sixers at Mavericks
8 p.m., Channel 17 and WIPradio