It comes down to a do-or-die situation after the Dallas Mavs spanked the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 and forced a Game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Chris Paul from the Phoenix Suns defends Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavs, but now the two face a single-game elimination in Game 7 to determine the winner of their series. (Image: Getty)
The top-ranked Suns posted the best record in the regular season, but they struggled to put away the pesky Mavs, who earned the #4 seed in the Western Conference. The Suns were up 3-2, but could not land a knock-out blow in Game 6 on the road.
The home game won every game this series, which bodes well for the Suns playing Game 7 in Phoenix.
Game 7: #4 Dallas Mavs (3-3) at #1 Phoenix Suns (3-3)
Tip-off: 5pm PT
Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Point Spread: PHX -6.5
Total: 205 o/u
Moneyline: DAL +240 / PHX -310
The Suns opened as a -6 favorite heading into Game 7 against the Mavs, but the line moved to -6.5.
According to DraftKings’ series markets, the Suns are -310 odds to win the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals. The Mavs are +240 odds to pull off the upset on the road.
The winner of this series will meet the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, after the Warriors knocked out the Memphis Grizzlies in six games.
Mavs: Will Doncic Get Support?
Everyone knows that Luka Doncic is awesome and the best player on the court in this series. The young Slovenian averages 32.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game against the Suns in this series. Doncic is going to take a lot of shots and get his points. The key to thwarting the Mavs is to make sure their other key players do not beat you.
In the first two games, the Mavs fell into an 0-2 hole because Doncic generated the bulk of the offense and the rest of the starters stood around and watched him go to work. Doncic outscored the other four starters in Game 1 and Game 2, which resulted in back-to-back losses.
The Mavs finally got some production out of Jalen Brunson (22.8 ppg) in Game 3, and Dorian Finney-Smith (12.2 ppg) caught fire in Game 4, which resulted in two huge wins from the Mavs to tie the series.
In Game 5, Doncic and Brunson were the only Mavs who show showed up in a 30-point blowout loss. In Game 6, Reggie Bullock (10.7 ppg) stepped up and the Mavs outgunned the Suns by knocking down 16 treys to just six for the Suns. The Mavs leveraged a 30-point differential and cruised to a 27-point victory.
Doncic struggled from 3-point range the last four games connecting on 21.2% of his shots on 7-for-33 from downtown. The Suns will try to keep Doncic off the block and force him to jack up a lot of treys.
Suns: Cut Down Turnovers, Better D on Treys
The Suns looked like two different teams this series. At home — where they’re undefeated in the postseason and won all three games against the Mavs — the Suns protect the ball and spread it around. On the road, the Suns were plagued with turnovers and foul trouble. Chris Paul is averaging 19.2 points and 8.7 assists in the postseason, but his scoring is down by nearly five points per game against the Mavs. More importantly, Paul contributed 14 turnovers in the three losses.
In two out of the three losses, the Mavs attempted and knocked down more 3-pointers than the Suns. In the last two losses, the Mavs attempted 83 3-pointers versus just 43 for the Suns, and the Suns tallied just 15 made treys versus 36 for the Mavs.
It seems fairly obvious that the Suns need to vastly improve their perimeter defense, especially if they do not increase the volume of their long-range shooting.
The Mavs hunkered down on defense after the first two games, and did a much better job at forcing turnovers.
The Suns utilized the “Spain pick and roll” to near perfecting in the first two games, but they haven’t been running it as much in the last four games. It’s not that the Mavs neutralized it, they just haven’t been calling it during their offensive sets.
Devin Booker leads the Suns with 24.7 ppg this postseason. Deandre Ayton is second in scoring with Ayton 19.0 ppg. Paul has been inconsistent, but the Suns will need him to stay out of foul trouble and limit turnover if they expect to keep their championship goals alive.
Check out more of OG’s extensive coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.