Following an ugly defeat in a closeout game chance to the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns are now in a predicament where it’s won or go home. Game 7 is approaching. Anything is possible.
This is one of the oddest playoff series I’ve ever witnessed. There have been some Game 7s in NBA history. However, I can’t recall a case where the home team won every game and had such a weird point difference. Only “inconsistent” may be used to describe consistency.
The Phoenix Suns’ performance in this series has earned them a new moniker. They are known as “Schizophrenic Suns.” They remind me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They look like world-beaters one night. Their defense is solid, and their attack is on fire. The next night, they appear to be running offense setups that result in YMCA defeats.
Rough night for the best backcourt in the NBA.
CP: 4 baskets, 5 turnovers
Book: 6 baskets, 8 turnovers pic.twitter.com/tSI37V3qnu
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 13, 2022
“I didn’t believe we realized how desperate they would play,” Monty Williams said after the game. “In a critical position, they came out with force and grit and hurried us up.” We were as disorganized on offense as we’ve ever been.”
The Suns’ effort in Game 6 was again another farce, as they were defeated by 113-86. The team had just thrashed the Mavericks in Game 5 and was poised to go to the Western Conference Finals. And, although you expected Dallas to play like a wounded animal in a closeout game, you didn’t expect the Phoenix Suns to give up again.
The Suns’ lack of concentration and enthusiasm in the playoffs has been comical. This club won 64 games and 78 percent of their regular-season games. Nonetheless, they are presently 7-5 in the postseason (58 percent). If you’re searching for championship-caliber basketball, look elsewhere.
In this series, the Suns have been outstanding when playing at home. They won the first three games by an average of 19 points. Their defense plays with heart, as they’ve kept the Mavericks to 101 points per game at the Footprint Center.
They’re superior at ball protection, committing 37 turnovers in home games. The 12.3 turnovers per home game reflect the team’s season average of 12.9 turnovers, which ranked ninth in the NBA.
They shoot 54.3 percent from the field at home, including 42.4 percent from beyond the arc. The club has a 127.2 offensive rating and a 105.6 defensive rating. Their assist percentage is 60.1%.
They’re locked in defensively. The Suns hold the Mavericks to 43.8 percent shooting and 36.6 percent from deep at home. They are aggressive, forcing 14.7 turnovers and putting pressure on Dallas to make errors. We followed them throughout the season.
But put this team on a plane, and Mr. Hyde comes out to play. They’ve fallen by an average of 15.3 points in each game. They enable the Mavericks to score 109 points per game while only scoring 92.6. The attack is disjointed. The defense is missing assignments. The squad is in turmoil, and there is no leadership.
In three games at American Airlines Center, the club has turned the ball over 56 times for an average of 18.7. While in Dallas, Phoenix has an offensive rating of 101.8 and a defensive rating of 117.2.
While they aren’t enabling Dallas to shoot considerably better – the Mavericks shot 44.8 percent from the field – they are letting themselves be annihilated by three-pointers. The Mavericks make 40.2 percent of their three-point attempts at home, while the Suns allow them to make 16.3 per game. In Phoenix, that figure is 13.7. +9 per game from deep.
Who is this team?
Chris Paul looks to have an injury. His play since game two has been, to put it mildly, disappointing. He is not assisting the offense; rather, he is chucking the ball away while not looking at the floor. I can’t tell you how many times the Mavericks have intercepted Paul’s cross-court pass on the weak side. His degree of awareness is appalling.
Over Chris Paul’s last four games he’s averaging 9.3 points, 6.3 assists and 4.5 turnovers. Mavericks are doing a great job defending him with DFS, Bullock, Ntilikina, etc. But I wonder if it’s much more than that considering this drop off. How soon do we get a report he’s hurt?
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 13, 2022
The energy that CP3 exudes, at least in terms of body language, is unmotivating. What about his shoulders? Slumped. What about his expression? Melancholy. We haven’t seen the fire that we’ve expected from Chris Paul. And his crew is following him on the road.
The same could be said for the Mavericks. When they get to Phoenix, they are a different squad. However, any Mavericks fan would tell you that winning one series this postseason was a major aim and a step on the right path for their team. Anything over that is essentially gambling with house money.
The Suns have a different narrative. It’s either championship or bust. Nobody predicted Dallas to win this series.
Every ESPN NBA writer in this survey picked the Suns over the Mavs. pic.twitter.com/i9FPPSDVNf
— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) May 1, 2022
Thankfully for the Suns, Game 7 is at home.
Monty Williams has stated multiple times that he loves the regular season since it determines home-court advantage in the postseason. In theory, and based on how the series has progressed, the Suns should win Game 7 at home. But the fact that this club has positioned itself in a position where they must face Luka Doncic, the series’ greatest player, in a Game 7 is troubling. If he goes nuclear, Phoenix’s season may be gone.
Maybe this squad needs to work on their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde demons. If they make it to the Western Conference Finals, their schizophrenic tendencies must be addressed. I might need counseling as a fan. The emotional ups and downs of this series and the performances of this squad have left me in desperate need of medicine.