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The Phoenix Suns shouldn’t have been pushed into Game 7

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If anyone believes the trends, it is possible that the Phoenix Suns will win Sunday’s do-or-die game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks in their Western Conference semifinal series.

After all, the home team has won every game in this playoff series.

But for Phoenix, it didn’t have to come. Not for the team with the best regular-season record ever in the NBA, and especially not after the Sun dominated their first two games against the Dallas team with limited playmaking outside of their star Luca Donsic.

On Thursday night, the sun had a chance to send the Mavericks home for the summer, just to lay eggs. Dallas warmed up from the 3-point range, shooting 16 for 39 (41 percent), while Donsick threatened his way to the rim for easy dunks. Donsick also stepped back repeatedly and won the match over little Sun Point guard Chris Paul. Dallas was eager to exploit the entire series. Donsick finished the game with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals.

I don’t have enough time to talk about everything I’m eating, “Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters after the game. “I don’t think we understood the frustration of playing them.”

This is not a normal series of seven games. The stars of both the teams exchanged clutch baskets and it was not a slugfest. None of the competitions were particularly competitive or last minute. The only consistencies have been chippiness and trash conversations.

But there are examples of this kind of playoff series. In 2008, the No. 1-seeded Boston Celtics faced No. 8-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Boston won the first two games at home in a blowout, but Atlanta repeatedly and unexpectedly kept the serve at home. The Celtics won Game 7 by 34 points. Boston’s next series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, shaped the same pace, but those games were more competitive. Boston will win the NBA Championship.

But there is no guarantee of an example, and the Sun could certainly be on the verge of exiting the embarrassing second round after running in last year’s NBA Finals. Last year, Box and Net won home games in six games in the second round, then Box won the final on the road. Another game from the moment, or a hot game from the Mavericks role player, and the Sun Door can be shown.

If the Mavericks win, they will beat the Suns team who have won franchise-record 64 games, including an 18-game winning streak. Such success is rare and difficult to replicate. For one thing, Paul, the 12-time All-Star, is 37 years old. He is still elite as a point guard and has led the league in per game assists. But the list of the best performers at the age of 38 is small, filled with generations of players such as Carl Malone, John Stockton, Michael Jordan and Karim Abdul-Jabbar.

Paul is also a player of a generation, but it has not been particularly strong for him, especially after the seasons after games 1 and 2. Since then, he has had foul problems, difficulty defending Donsic, and has only been out. Six is ​​a sports collaboration For later series 10.8 per game average in regular season.

Not having a championship is a major hole in Paul’s famous resume. He played 3-4 in 7 seconds Not including the 2018 Western Conference final against the Golden State Warriors, when he lost the final game due to injury as a member of the Houston Rockets.

The Suns will also be at a crossroads with 23-year-old Diandre Aiton, one of the league’s best centers and set to enter a banned independent agency. Phoenix did not offer him a maximum deal before the season, and an early playoff exit could hurt his chances of getting one now.

But Phoenix has the edge of sensation to enter Sunday’s game. They had the NBA’s best home record at 32-9. They have the test of bridging the gap between the experienced and the finalists last year. They show that they can face Donsick, who has torched the Sun on average through 32 games with 32.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists in his third playoff run. Donsick has faced elimination three times in his short playoff career – including Thursday – and has come out on top every time he has lost. He played in the first round of Game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers last year Added 46 points to the defeat. In 2020, he had 38 points in a 6-game loss to the Clippers.

Despite failing to defend Donetsk, the Sons have won three games.

But what they can’t cope with is their own turnover, which has ignored the sun on the road. In Game 3, Paul and Devin Booker Combined for 12 of them, More than Mavericks. In Game 4, Booker had five. Paul played two but only 23 minutes Due to a bad problem. In Thursday’s game 6, Booker played eight, Paul five and Mavericks only six.

Mavericks’ strategy for defeating the Phoenix is ​​relatively simple: match Donetsk against Paul, or spread the ground and drive Donetsk or his backcourt partner, Jalen Branson, and find the shooters. It has often worked. Role players like Maxi Kleber have often come up with 3s hits.

One adjustment Sun can counter is to stack paint with defenders to encourage Donsick to shoot 3s. He is an average 3-point shooter, Only 29.6 percent for the series. And if he gets into the paint, the sun will have to stop the shooters from interfering with his rhythm. In Game 5, Phoenix’s best defensive performance of the series, Dallas took 8 wickets for 32 runs from a 3-point range, a disappointing 25 percent.

Outside of Game 5, the Suns are consistently poor in defense and only occasionally have they been able to win with strong offense. It was often seen that the suns were rushing their offense – unusual for a machine led by Paul.

The best thing about all these playoff games is that you don’t carry a 20-point lead in the next game, “Paul said Thursday.” You know what I mean? Each game has its own personality and now it’s down to one game. “

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