2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference: #1 Phoenix Suns vs #4 Dallas Mavericks
Tale of the Tape:
|114.8 (5th)||Points Per Game||108 (24th)|
|107.3 (8th)||Points Allowed Per Game||104.7 (2nd)|
|9th||Pace of Play||30th|
|T-3rd||Off Efficiency Rating||T-14th|
|3rd||Def Efficiency Rating||6th|
Can’t Miss Offer From Caesars
- Devin Booker, SG: 26.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 38.3% 3PT
- Deandre Ayton, C: 17.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.4 APG, 63.4% FG
- Chris Paul, PG: 14.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 10.8 APG, 1.9 SPG
- Luka Doncic, PG: 28.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.2 SPG
- Jalen Brunson, PG: 16.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 37.3% 3PT
- Dorian Finney-Smith, PF: 11.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG
- Devin Booker and Luka Doncic have both returned to action
Suns win the series 4-2
- Phoenix swept the regular-season series 3-0; although, all three games were decided by single digits. All three games were also under 216 total points, which is something to keep in mind as we see the odds some out for each game.
- Obviously, one of the big talking points in this series is that both teams have their previously injured stars back and (presumably) fully healthy for the series. In three games against the Pelicans, Devin Booker averaged 23 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 48% from beyond the arc.
- Given the Suns’ offensive philosophy, it’s no surprise that those numbers are not as gaudy as what Luka Dončić did in three games against the Jazz, averaging 29 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.7 steals.
- However, a key for Dallas will be how well Jalen Brunson plays. The combo guard was electric against the Jazz, scoring 27.8 points on 48.4% from the field and 36.4% from deep. He also chipped in 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. His emergence as a second key scorer alongside Dončić is huge for the Mavericks’ chances to win this series.
- Another key will be how Dončić handles the Suns’ 3rd-ranked defense. Dončić has a tendency to play hero ball as the game drags on, putting up a 37% 4th-quarter usage rate against the Jazz, which is the highest of any player in the playoffs. As a result, the Mavericks’ offense can stagnate, and he can take some poor shots. Jae Crowder is a capable defender and can make things tough for Luka, but the Suns will likely continuously change their scheme and approach against him. Considering he only played in one of the games against the Suns this season, how quickly he adapts will be a key to the series.
- On the other side, the Mavericks are also an incredibly talented defense and did a tremendous job against the Utah Jazz, but I believe the Suns are a different animal. Chris Paul is a savvy veteran and will be able to adapt to what the Mavericks throw at him. Both he and Booker are comfortable in the mid-range, as is Deandre Ayton, who has really improved that aspect of his game. The Suns are less reliant on three-point shooting than the Jazz are, so it’ll be interesting to see how Dallas adapts their defensive gameplan to a team that has multiple ways to beat you.
- Guarding Ayton will also be a challenge. Both of these teams like to play small, but the Suns will have Ayton on the court because he is a capable pick-and-roll defender and is a strong rim protector. The Mavericks will likely use a combination of Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber, but neither one of those guys can be counted on to keep Ayton quiet for an entire game. He’s not the focal point of the Suns’ offense, but if the Mavericks can’t stop him, he could certainly be a pivotal one.
- At the end of the day, the way the Mavericks seemed to tire in the 4th quarter against the Jazz makes me think that this team might not have the legs to take the Suns in a full series. I just think Phoenix is too deep and well-coached.