If one believes in the trends, it seems likely that the Phoenix Suns will win Sunday’s 7th game in the semifinals of the Western Conference against the Dallas Mavericks.
In the end, the hosts won all the games in this playoff series.
But for Phoenix, that should not have happened. Not for the team that had the best record in the NBA regular season, especially after the Suns won their first two games against the Dallas team, where they had a limited draw outside of their star, Luka Doncic.
On Thursday night, “Suns” had the opportunity to send Mavericks home for the summer, just to lay eggs. Dallas warmed up from 3 points, hitting 16 against 39 (41%), while Doncic chased his way to the edge for easy punches. Donchich also stepped back several times, defeating Sunny junior point guard Chris Paul in a match when Dallas wanted to use the entire series. Doncic finished the game with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals.
«“I do not have enough time to talk about everything that eats me,” Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters after the game. “I did not think we understood the frustration they were going to play with.”
This was not a typical seven-game series. The stars of both teams exchanged absorption baskets. None of the competitions was particularly competitive or reached the final minutes. The only constant was the talk of rubbish.
But there are precedents for such a playoff series. The Boston Celtics, who appeared in the first round in 2008, met the 8th-ranked Atlanta Hawks. Boston won the first two games at home with blows, but Atlanta made several unexpected home runs. The Celtics won Game 7 with 34 points. Boston’s next series, led by LeBron James, led the Cleveland Cavaliers, but those games were more competitive. Boston will continue to win the NBA championship.
But precedent is not a guarantee, և Suns can certainly reach the embarrassing second round after last year’s run in the NBA Finals. Last year, the Bucks and the Nets exchanged home victories for six games in the second round, and then the Bucks won the final away. Another game from Paul, or a hot game from a Mavericks player, և The Suns can be shown the door.
If the Mavericks win, they will oust the Suns, who have won a record 64 games, including an 18-game winning streak. Such success is rare and difficult to replicate. First of all, Paul, who is a 12-time all-star, is 37 years old. He is still elite as a point defender, leading the league with one assist in one game. But the list of players over the age of 38 is small, with a generation of players such as Carl Malone, John Stockton, Michael Jordan and Karim Abdul-Jabar.
Paul is also a player of the generation, but this was not a particularly strong post-season series for him, especially after the first and second games. Since then, he has been suffering from unfavorable problems, struggling to defend Doncic, only to come out. six goal assists per game for the next series Averages 10.8 per game during the regular season.
Not having a championship is a notable hole in Paul’s famous resume. He is 3-4 in the 7th game, Not counting the 2018 Western Conference final against the Golden State Warriors when he missed the final with the Houston Rockets due to injury.
The Suns will also be at a crossroads with 23-year-old Deandre Ayton, one of the league’s best centers և is set to enter a limited free agency. Phoenix did not offer him the maximum contract offer before the season, early exit from the playoffs could hurt his chances of getting it now.
However, “Suns” has an advantage to enter the game in Phoenix on Sunday. They had the best home record in the NBA, 32-9. They are tested, reaching the final last year with the experienced Paul. They showed that they can face Doncic, who defeated Sans in his third playoff round, averaging 32.2 points in six games, 9.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Doncic has faced dismissal three times during his short play-off career, including on Thursday, “each time making big progress or losing.” Last year in the 7th game in the first round he played against the Los Angeles Clippers scored 46 points after the defeat. In 2020, he had 38 points during the defeat from “Clippers” in the 6th game.
“Sans” won three times, although they could not defend Doncic.
But what they can not stand is their own turns that deceived the Arns on the way. In Game 3, Paul D. Booker combined for 12 of them, more than Mavericks. In the 4th game, Booker had five. Paul had two, but played only 23 minutes because of severe troubles. In the 6th game on Thursday, Booker had eight, Paul – five, and the Mavericks together – only six.
Mavericks’ strategy to defeat Phoenix is relatively simple. Match Donchik to Paul, or spread the floor և Drive Donchik or his butt partner Jalen Branson և Find shooters. It mainly worked. Actors like Maxi Kleber often clashed over three.
One of the adjustments that Sans can counteract is to collect the paint with the defenders, to encourage Donchich 3 shots each. He is a 3-point shooter below average, only 29.6% for the series. And if he gets to the paint, the Suns have to shut down the shooters to disrupt their rhythm. In Game 5, which is Phoenix’s best defensive performance in this series, Dallas scored 8 goals from 32 points against 32, which is a sad 25 percent.
Outside of the 5th game, “Sans” is consistently bad in defense, only occasionally they were able to overcome it with a strong attack. It often seemed that the Lions were in a hurry to insult them, which is unusual for a car driven by Paul.
«“The best thing about all these playoff games is that you do not have a 20-point advantage in the next game,” Paul said on Thursday. “Do you know what I mean? Each game has its own personality, և now it depends on one game»:
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