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Friday, May 13, 2022

Mavericks Rout Suns, Force Seventh Game in Phoenix

The Phoenix-Dallas series has become more interesting--and lasted longer--than many people (including this author) expected. After Dallas blew out Phoenix 113-86 to level the series at 3-3, Phoenix' two home wins to take a 2-0 lead seemed like ancient history. The Mavericks have won three of the last four games against a Phoenix squad that went 64-18 in the regular season, including 3-0 against the Mavericks. The odds are that Phoenix will win game seven at home, but once a series is extended to the limit anything can happen to tilt the outcome in favor of the underdog, including foul trouble, injuries, or a shooting slump by a key player. 

Speaking of ancient history and shooting slumps, it seems like a long time ago since Chris Paul shot 14-14 from the field as the Suns eliminated the Pelicans in game six of the first round. Although Paul shot very well in the first two games of the Dallas series, his last four shooting performances are 5-9, 2-4, 3-8, and 4-7. The efficiency is not bad, but the total number of made field goals in those four games matches his game six total versus New Orleans. Paul has a long history of wearing down and/or getting injured during the playoffs, and that is what seems to be happening now. It is difficult to picture Phoenix winning game seven if Paul continues to be such a reluctant shooter. While his primary role is to be a playmaker, the Suns are at their best when Paul is a credible scoring threat.

Suns' supporters touted Devin Booker as an MVP candidate based on the premise that the best player on the best team should get the award if he is playing at an All-NBA level. Booker had a subpar game six (19 points on 6-17 field goal shooting, eight turnovers) after averaging 26.8 ppg on .479 field goal shooting with just 3.0 tpg in the first five games of this series. Great regular season statistics and big regular season win totals are nice, but players establish legitimate MVP credentials by consistently performing at a high level in the playoffs.

Dallas' Luka Doncic is rarely, if ever, bashful about shooting. In game six, he scored a game-high 33 points on 11-26 field goal shooting while also leading Dallas with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Reggie Bullock (19 points), Jalen Brunson (18 points), and Spencer Dinwiddie (15 points) provided the kind of scoring support that the Mavericks will need to win game seven in Phoenix. The Mavericks beat the Jazz in the first round by playing small and making a ton of three point shots. That approach did not seem likely to work against the Suns, who have better perimeter defenders than the Jazz, but in game six the Mavericks shot 16-39 (.410) from beyond the arc. 

The Suns not only struggled to contain Doncic and his merry band of three point marksmen, but their formerly high scoring, efficient offense sputtered to a season-low point total while shooting just .397 from the field. Maybe being on their home court will cure everything that is ailing the Suns at both ends of the court, but when the visiting team has the best player it is risky to assume that the game's location will be the deciding factor; Doncic is more than capable of scoring 40-plus points and carrying the Mavericks to a road win.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:36 AM



At Friday, May 13, 2022 3:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


“Doncic is more than capable of scoring 40-plus points and carrying the Mavericks to a road win”

I find it hilarious that I didn’t even blink at that statement, just nodded and moved along.

I have more faith in a 23 year old Luka going into the No.1 seed’s home court in a game 7 and dropping 40+/winning than I ever did of Harden doing the same.

Question, and I know you don't tend to compare players historically, but would you say Giannis is at the moment operating close to or at the same level than LeBron did in his back to back Miami titles?

LeBron was more versatile offensively, but Giannis is more impactful on defense due to his size, and it seems he has more of an aggressive focus than LeBron did even if he is less skilled.

At Friday, May 13, 2022 4:22:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, young Luka is already better than Harden ever was.

Yes, I think that Giannis is operating at a similar level to Miami LeBron, and I agree that Giannis more consistently has an aggressive mindset than LeBron did.


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