Doncic pushes Suns-Mavericks series to Game 7

The Suns and the Mavericks (3-3) will play on Sunday for a place in the final of the Western Conference in the seventh game after what Luka Doncic will guide Dallas to a clear and seamless victory this Thursday to avoid elimination (113-86). The Slovenian was the absolute owner of the match with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals, and also had very solid support from his teammates. Reggie Bullock (19 points, with 5 triples, and 7 rebounds), Jalen Brunson (18 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie (15 points) accompanied Doncic perfectly in a Mavericks that made 16 triples.

Facing the ideal night of the Mavericks, the Suns lived a nightmare in Dallas. They lost 22 balls (which gave rise to 29 points from their rivals), only made 6 triples and had very discreet performances from their stars. Deandre Ayton was the best (21 points and 11 rebounds) while Devin Booker (19 points and 8 turnovers) and Chris Paul (13 points and 5 turnovers) passed with more pain than glory. Outperformed by the Mavericks at all times, the Suns, who fell in the 2021 NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks, showed worrying signs of frustration and helplessness but have the powerful bullet that Game 7 will be played at home.

Doncic starts, Doncic sentences

Doncic missed his first three shots, but the way the first quarter ended, it seemed like the start was just a distraction. The Slovenian went up to 11 points in an opening quarter in which he left delicious plays like a three-pointer with a step back against Paul so that his team took the lead (28-25). Paul went completely unnoticed in those first twelve minutes, since he did not record points, rebounds or assists: the only trace of him in the statistics was a turnover.

Doncic’s minutes on the bench, always a cause for concern for the Mavericks, were dealt with smugly by Brunson. The Suns stayed close, but the Mavericks’ defense controlled the forays from Paul and Booker while turnovers were beginning to be a serious problem for Phoenix. Overwhelming back and running on the counterattack, Dallas closed the first half with a convincing 19-6 and landed at halftime with good feelings against a dubious Suns (60-45). Doncic ruled the first half with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, but the best thing for the Mavericks was that players like Brunson, Bullock, Kleber or Dinwiddie consistently joined his leadership. Instead, the Suns turned over 8 balls in the first half, Booker did not score any points in the second quarter (8 in the first) and Paul went into halftime with only 5 points and 2 assists.

After the break, the Mavericks had to face the ghost of the fifth game, in which the Suns mercilessly crushed them in the third quarter (33-14). But the story tonight had nothing to do with it. With the same intensity as in the first half, the Mavericks shook the Suns without giving them time to react and between Doncic, Brunson and Powell they achieved +20 (68-48 with 8.51 to go). Phoenix continued with the same pain: turnovers, lack of ideas in attack and sad performance of their figures. With all this, the Mavericks respected their winning script of the evening to the letter – although they had the luxury of seeing two dunks practically in a row from Doncic – and entered the last quarter with a huge advantage that demanded a miracle from the Suns (94-72).

It was not a day for Phoenix feats so Doncic and company sentenced the game with serenity and the Suns and Mavericks met for the final game on Sunday.