For the first time this NBA playoff season, we will have a winner-take-all battle to the death, no survivors, Game 7!
Maybe that’s a touch harsh, but you get the picture!
The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns 113-86 at home on Thursday night, forcing a Game 7 in this Western Conference Semifinals series and pushing the reigning Western Conference champions up against the wall.
Luka Doncic and the Mavericks have not backed down in this series, and they now have the advantage heading into Sunday’s game.
Home court advantage has been incredibly important in this series, with the Suns and Mavericks going 3-0 at home. Phoenix will be optimistic with one more home game, but they should be a worry after what Dallas did in Game 6.
The Mavericks were able to get inside the minds of the Suns once again, something that almost no other team has been able to do this year simply because of how composed and seasoned this Suns’ squad is. Frustration has set in for Phoenix, and it was on full display Thursday night in Dallas.
The Suns turned the ball over 22 times, giving the Mavericks 29 points, and they struggled again shooting the ball, going 31-78 (39.7 percent) from the field and 6-18 (33.3 percent) from deep.
Let’s look back at what transpired in Game 6 and three major lessons from that game before Game 7 on Sunday.
There’s Something About That Dallas Water Phoenix Does Not Like
I’m not sure what it is about Dallas, but the Phoenix Suns aren’t going to be able to win there in the postseason.
The good news is that Game 7 will be played on their turf, but what is it about Dallas?
In this series, Phoenix has gone 0-3 on the road against the Mavericks, losing all three games by a combined 46 points.
In this series, the Suns have shot 43.7 percent from the floor and 39.4 percent from the three-point range, compared to 54.3 percent from the floor and 42.4 percent from the three-point range at home.
You have to give the Mavericks a lot of credit for how they’ve protected home court in this series and how their role players have stepped up. Still, a lot of the Suns’ misery stems from the fact that they’ve let the Mavericks’ supporters and questionable calls on the road get into their heads.
Normally the most poised team in the NBA, the Suns’ attitude has cracked in this series, and they have suffered on the road as a result.
The Suns Need To Calm Down On The Floor And Get Back To The Basics
One of the main reasons the Suns lost Game 6 in Dallas was because they allowed their emotions to get their best. This allowed Dallas to exploit the Suns defensively, but it also allowed Phoenix to commit sloppy turnovers possession after possession.
The Suns turned the ball over 22 times on Thursday night, resulting in 29 points for the Mavericks. In the great scheme of things, if the Mavericks had only 5-6 of these mistakes, they could have scored 10-12 fewer points than they did, and this game would not have been as out of hand as it was.
This is a big statement, as everything that happens throughout the game influences the outcome. Thus no turnover or no basket effectively “won the game,” yet Phoenix did everything wrong offensively, which directly influenced why they lost.
You may throw the finger at Devin Booker for his 8 turnovers in Game 6, but Chris Paul is the reason the Suns need to improve.
Paul has thrown the ball over at least four times in three of the previous four games, averaging 4.5 turnovers per game.
During the regular season, Paul averaged 2.4 turnovers per game, and there was no stretch of games during which the experienced point guard turned the ball over this many times.
Paul only had four or more turnovers in a game nine times the entire season!
Phoenix advanced to the NBA Finals last season by taking care of the basketball and having Chris Paul initiate their offense. Dallas has done a nice job of making him uncomfortable this series, but Paul is a potential Hall of Famer who has to be this sort of player in Game 7 if the Suns are to win.
Spencer Dinwiddie & Defense – The Two Keys To Success For Dallas
Luka Doncic is a fantastic, generational talent, and Jalen Brunson is an ideal complementary guard for the Mavericks. Still, their defense and Spencer Dinwiddie’s brilliance are the two main reasons they have stretched this series to seven games.
Starting with their defense, Dallas has stopped the league’s fifth-best scoring attack this year to less than 100 points twice in this series and to just 101 points the other time.
Keeping Devin Booker from driving downhill to the basket has focused on this club throughout the series. Dallas has done an excellent job of collapsing into the lane when Phoenix attempts to attack, knowing that the Suns would not settle for three-pointers.
While they are more than capable of making threes, the Suns finished the regular season 26th in the league in three-point attempts and 4th in points in the paint.
So, heading into this series, head coach Jason Kidd and the Mavericks created a strategy to prevent Phoenix from assaulting the paint, something they have done so well in the past.
They struggled to do so in Games 1 and 2 of this series, but the Mavericks have dominated team defense and defensive efficiency since then.
Spencer Dinwiddie is the key to Dallas realizing their full offensive potential.
Dinwiddie is only averaging 11.8 points and 3.7 assists in the playoffs, but he is a savvy player who has shown to be a force from long range in this series, shooting 45 percent against the Suns.
Spencer Dinwiddie helped extend the Mavericks’ lead in Game 6 by scoring 15 points off the bench on 5-7 shooting from long on Thursday, and he is their X-factor simply because he is not the center of attention on offense.
Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic both get a lot of attention from Phoenix, allowing Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie to play one-on-one at times.
Dinwiddie has proven to be a scoring threat with the ball in his hands after being a primary scorer earlier in his career and heading into Game 7. The Mavericks will rely on him to be a factor off the bench once more in hopes of advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011.