Suns’ Booker: ‘I’ve never been in a Game 7; it’s gonna be fun’

The Dallas Mavericks have forced a Game 7 after defeating the Phoenix Suns 111-86 in Game 6 at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.

Game 7 is Sunday in Phoenix.

Of course, Luka Doncic led the way for the Mavericks with 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Per Stathead, Doncic is only the fifth player in NBA history to record this stat line in a playoff game.

“I don’t care about stats if we win,” Doncic said after the win. “If we win, I am good. Statistics don’t really matter to me, but if we win, it is going to be amazing. We have another game. We won this game on the defensive end, and now we have another game. It is fun. It’s the playoffs, and we are going to give our everything.”

The Mavericks forced 22 turnovers(which led to 29 points), including a season-high 16 steals by Dallas. 

With their backs against the wall, Dallas head coach Jason Kidd felt the team showed some pride and fed off their home crowd.

“I thought the fans were great,” Kidd said. “I thought we played off of the fans. I thought they were involved for 48 minutes tonight. But I thought the guys, too, were attuned to the game plan and came out and executed it to a T. Again, turnovers were something that we talked about – kept those down—made open shots. Everyone was involved; the ball was touching the paint. And then, defensively, we were active. We got deflections, came up with steals. I thought the vibe was high. That group in that locker room, we’ve talked about it, will always bounce back after a bad game. They felt they had a bad game, bounced back. Now we’ve got to figure out how to win on the road.”

The Mavs are 3-0 in Dallas at home against Phoenix in this series and have beaten the Suns by an average of 15 points. However, the Suns are 3-0 in Phoenix versus Dallas in this series; they have won by an average of 19 points.

According to Reggie Bullock, who scored a postseason-career-best 19 points (5-11 3FG) to go with seven rebounds and two steals, Dallas must have the same energy they brought to Game 6 in Game 7.

“Bring the same energy from the jump,” Bullock said about Game 7. “Be ready to punch them in the mouth early. Just keep that going throughout the game. They are a great team, and it is a hostile environment up there. But at the same time, we are just going to come with a lot of energy and just keep playing the way we have been playing all year.”

Obviously, you don’t want to play a Game 7, but Devin Booker, who had 19 points in the loss, is looking forward to it.

“We work all season to have home-court advantage and get the last game in our house, and that’s exciting,” he said. “It’s Game 7. I’ve never been in a Game 7. It’s gonna be fun.”

It’s win or go home for both teams, and based on their regular-season record of 32-9 at home and their dominance at home over the Mavs in this series, Phoenix is the favorite In Game 7. However, with Luka Doncic, anything can happen.

 

 

Game 6 is a must-win for the Suns

The Dallas Mavericks had all the momentum heading into Game 5 against the Suns, as they won Games 3 and 4 in Dallas to tie their Western Conference second-round series at 2.

In Game 5, Dallas got off to a solid start and took a 26-23 lead after one quarter.

However, Dallas was outscored by 33 points the rest of the way, including 33-14 in the third quarter, as the Suns defeated the Mavs 110-80 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

With the win, the Suns can close out the Mavs in Game 6 Thursday night in Dallas.

In that third quarter, Phoenix created 12 turnovers(seven steals), which led to 18 points, shot 54% from the field, and Devin Booker scored 12 of his team-high 28 points. After three quarters, Phoenix led 82-60 and had their largest lead of 30 points in the fourth.

Phoenix did not play well in Dallas, and they have not lost more than two straight games this season, and with all the drama with Chris Paul and his family in Game 4, you knew the Suns would come back strong in Game 5. 

In their first-round series, the Suns were in a similar situation against the Pelicans. After losing Game 4 to the Pelicans, the Suns came back and handled their business in Game 5; Phoenix took care of business in New Orleans against the Pelicans in Game 6, and they must do the same against the Mavericks.

Even though Game 7 would be back in Phoenix, where they were 32-9 in the regular season, the Suns don’t want to be in a position where they have beat a great player like Luka Doncic, who can put up big numbers and steal a game.

Plus, as stated numerous times, to avoid injuries, you don’t want to play extra games, so the Suns have to end this series in Game 6. However, the fourth game is always the hardest to get, so expect Dallas to come out strong.

Mavs’ Doncic in Game 3 win: ‘I knew I had to do better’

In the first two games of their Western Conference second-round series against the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks were all about Luka Doncic and no one else. 

Coming into Game 3, Doncic was averaging 40 points per contest in this series, but Dallas needed others to come to the party.

Doncic got his in Game 3 with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists, but Jalen Brunson recorded a game-high 28 points; Reggie Bullock added 15 points, Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in with 14 points, and Maxi Kleber collected 14 points off the bench as the Mavs defeated the Suns 103-94 at American Airlines Center.

With the win, Dallas snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Suns. The Mavericks still trail in the series 2-1, with an opportunity to even the series on Sunday.

“I thought it was a great team win,” Kidd said. “(Jalen Brunson), Spencer [Dinwiddie], Maxi [Kleber], Luka [Dončić], Reggie [Bullock], (Dorian Finney-Smith) – everyone joined the party, they helped out on both ends. And then Luka was great defensively; he participated, too. It puts us in a different position when that happens.”

Doncic had 24 points in the first half in Game 2 but scored only 11 in the second half, and Dallas allowed Phoenix to score 40 points in the fourth on 84% shooting from the field. In Game 3, Doncic felt he needed to be better on both ends of the court. 

“I wouldn’t say motivation, but I knew I had to do better,” Doncic said. “I knew I could do better; I think that I have made a big jump on defense this year, and the second half was more by me, and I knew I had to get back to my team and play better defense.”

Dallas held Phoenix to 45% shooting from the field, marking the first game of the postseason (of nine outings) that Phoenix has been held to less than 50% from the field. In addition, the Mavs forced 17 turnovers, which led to 22 points.

On his 37th birthday, they forced seven Chris Paul turnovers.

“Happy birthday (Chris Paul),” Kidd said. “I think when you look at it, we were active. Our hands were active; we got deflections that led to steals. We came out aggressive. There was carryover from Game 2 in those first three quarters, and we played 48 minutes tonight. It’s a great win, but now this game is over. It’s a quick turnaround here for Sunday.”

Paul felt the turnovers were the difference in the game.

“If I don’t turn the ball over like that, I feel like it’s a different game, so give them a lot of credit,” Paul said.” They came out and did what they were supposed to do. We’ll be back on Sunday.”

Suns head coach Monty Williams did not like how the team’s offense flowed in Game 3.

“I’m sure there was a bit more pressure on the ball or hands in lanes to get the flex and that kind of thing,” he said. “I didn’t feel like we had a rhythm tonight on offense, to be straight with you all. You saw flashes, but we just didn’t have the same kind of offensive connection that we had in Phoenix. Some of that is to be expected when you are playing against a team, and you are up two games, you know they are going to come out and hit you in the mouth. I thought we could have settled down a little bit more on offense, especially when we have the ball jumping around the gym the way we did from a turnover perspective.”

This was a great effort from the Mavs on both ends, especially on defense. Playing big-time defense and getting big efforts from Doncic and others is why Dallas was successful this season. They have to use that same formula to win Game 4 and this series.

Notes:

-All five of the starters for Phoenix scored in double figures. Jae Crowder led the way with 19 points (5-8 3FG), seven rebounds, and five assists.

Doncic on Paul: ‘He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player’

The Dallas Mavericks have not had an answer for the Phoenix Suns in over two years, and they continued to have no answers for Phoenix on Wednesday night.

After leading 89-86 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth, the Suns went on a 33-9 run to take their largest lead at 122-95 with just under four minutes to go to take Game 2 129-109 at Footprint Center.

Phoenix leads the series 2-0 as the scene shifts to Dallas for Game 3 Friday night.

The Mavs, who have not defeated the Suns since 2019, have lost 11 consecutive games to Phoenix.

Phoenix shot 65% from the field, a new Suns postseason franchise record in a single playoff game. The Suns scored 40 points and shot 84% from the floor in the fourth, and Chris Paul had 14 of his 28 points in the final period.

“Like I always say, just playing the game,” Paul said about the fourth quarter. “Book (Devin Booker) started that third quarter, got us going. You know, I read the game. And other guys on the team made big shots whenever they made a run, just to get us going and get us warmed up into the game. Just feeding off of that.”

Booker, who led the Suns with 30 points, added on Paul: “I remember growing up – I don’t want to take it back to when I was five years old again – but me and my dad watched him play, and he was like, ‘do you see how he makes sure everybody is involved, and then he picks his times when he’s going to take over the game?’, and I’ve just always admired the way he does that. He’s just in control at all times. He’s two, three steps ahead of whatever the other team is doing. And just the leadership, that can never go unnoticed when you’re talking about this man. Just the way he holds people accountable, the will to win. The list keeps going on and on; that’s why he has the nickname (Point God) that he does.”

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 35 points, and just like everybody else, he was impressed with Paul.

“He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player,” Doncic said about Paul. “He’s been in this league a lot of years; he knows what this is about, so he’s very tough. But like I said, we have to do a better job with him.”

Like Game 1, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says Doncic needs help from others if Dallas wants to compete in this series. 

“He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night. Not at this time of the year, and we’re playing the best team in the league, and so we’ve got to get other guys going.”

The Suns look like the team that won 64 games in the regular season right now, and that team was tough to beat in the regular season, and that team will be tough to beat for the Mavericks. The series is not over, but the Mavs have to find a way to turn things around in Dallas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mavs’ Doncic on loss to Suns: ‘I think our defense lost us the game tonight’

Luka Doncic did his job in the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Doncic had 45 points(one short of playoff career-high), 12 rebounds, and eight assists.

However, that was overshadowed by Deandre Ayton’s(12/20 FG) 25 points and eight rebounds and Devin Booker’s 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Suns had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Phoenix would lead from start to finish and defeat the Mavericks 121-114 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.

The Suns, who led by as many as 21 points in this one, have defeated the Mavs 10 straight times(regular season and playoffs combined).

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd liked what Doncic did, but according to him, Doncic needed more help.

“He got whatever he wanted,” Kidd said after the loss. “When you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also he got his teammates some great looks that we normally have made, I thought he played great. We didn’t play him the whole game. Again, in the fourth quarter, those guys started to get a rhythm and played harder, but I thought he played great.”

After three quarters, the Suns scored 96 points. In addition, they finished the game shooting 51% from the field. Doncic felt the team’s defense lost Game 1.

“I think our defense lost us the game tonight,” Doncic said. “I think our start on the defensive end was terrible, and we’ve got to change that. I know we can play way better defense, and I know we will.”

The Suns came out with a lot of energy in this one, and they used their size to punish the Mavs on the glass as they outrebounded Dallas 51-36. Against the Jazz, Dallas was able to take advantage of Rudy Gobert because he could not hurt them on the offensive end. However, Ayton can and did hurt the Mavs, which Booker discussed postgame.

“He’s a beast down there, and he proves it night-in and night-out,” Booker said of Ayton. “That’s what teams try to go to verses us, just have five guards out there and switch it one through five, and that’s his time to punish them.”

The Mavs clearly have had a hard time defeating the Suns as they haven’t beaten Phoenix since 2019. The Suns have the their number, but there’s hope. Dallas lost Game 1 to the Jazz last round and won four of the next five games in that series.

However, Dallas must be better defensively and get a little more from other players not named Luka Doncic. 

Notes:

-Shooting 51% in the win, Phoenix has now shot 50+ FG% in all seven of their playoff games this postseason. The seven consecutive games shooting 50+ FG% is a franchise postseason record.

-Chris Paul totaled 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight, to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. With this third assist tonight, Paul passed Tony Parker for fifth on the NBA’s all-time playoff assists list.

-Maxi Kleber added 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting tonight in 25 minutes off the bench for Dallas. Kleber knocked down a game-high five three- pointers on eight attempts in the game.

 

 

Mavs’ Kidd on Doncic: ‘It looks like he’s been playing this whole series’

In the regular season, Luka Doncic led the Mavs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game, and Monday night at American Airlines Center, he led the Mavs in three of those four categories.

Doncic had game-highs of 33 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 102-77 in Game 5 to go up 3-2 in their best-of-seven first-round series. 

Teams that win Game 5 of a 2-2 best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 82.2% of the time (180-39)

Dallas led by as many as 20 points in the first half and had their largest lead of the game of 33 points in the third. Doncic, who was in his second game back after straining his calf in the regular-season finale, took over in the third. He scored 19 points, including three made three-pointers.

“He(Doncic) got going there in the third,” Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said after the win. “But Luka, again, for his second game back, it looks like he’s been playing this whole series. His conditioning, his effort on the defensive end, again, as we talked about rebounding the ball, he’s one of the best for us, and he did that for us tonight.”

During Doncic’s big third quarter, the fans were very much into the game, which he discussed post-game.

“It’s amazing,” Doncic said. “It’s one of those feelings that you just can’t describe. The whole arena is cheering for you, for your team. It’s unbelievable. I think the fans were amazing today. They helped us get this win. If it’s not for them, I don’t think we would win the game. They push us up every time we were tired. Our guys were tired, but they push us up, and I just want to thank them.”

Doncic had 30 points and 10 assists in Saturday’s loss to the Jazz, but according to him, he felt a lot better in Monday’s win over Utah.

“Way better than the first game,’ he said. “The first game, I was janky, but I feel better today. I think the first couple games I was tired, but today I was OK. I think the run in the third, I was feeling tired but just getting my air back and hydrated.”

Late in the game, with the Mavs in complete control, Doncic was fouled by Hassan Whiteside. Ultimately, there was some pushing and shoving, and Whiteside and Reggie Bullock would get ejected. According to Doncic, it was no big deal.

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “It’s playoffs; it’s playoffs. There’s always gonna be attention, but it was nothing. I tried to dunk it and wasn’t successful, but it’s the playoffs. These things happen in the playoffs.”

The Mavs are one game away from getting to the second round for the first time since 2011. They were up 3-2 on the Clippers last season and fell short. Maybe, just maybe, they have learned from that experience. 

Game 6 is Thursday night in Utah.

Notes:

-Jalen Brunson recorded 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists tonight. This was Brunson’s fifth consecutive game with 20+ points, making him the 7th player in franchise history with five-or-more consecutive postseason games scoring 20+ points.

-Dorian Finney-Smith added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 41 minutes tonight.

-Jordan Clarkson led Utah with 20 points off the bench.

Jason Kidd named Western Conference Coach of the Month

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has been named the Western Conference Coach of the Month for games played in March and April, the league announced Tuesday.

On Monday, Luka Doncic won Western Conference Player of the Week, and now Kidd gets some recognition from the league.

It marks his fourth career time being named Coach of the Month, after he previously won it three times in the Eastern Conference (January 2014, March 2014, March 2017). Kidd becomes the first Dallas coach to win the award since Rick Carlisle in February 2011.

Kidd led the Mavericks to a 16-5 record in March/April, including victories over Golden State (March 3), Utah (March 7 and 27), Boston (March 13), Brooklyn (March 16) and Milwaukee (April 3). The Mavericks finished as the fourth seed in the Western Conference this season – their highest seed since earning the No. 3 during their championship season in 2011.

Dallas ended the regular season by winning four straight, 7-of-8, 9-of-11, 17-of-22, 19-of-25, 23-of-30, and 36-of-48 to improve to a season-high 22 games above .500 (52-30). The Mavericks recorded their first 50-win season since 2014-15 (50-32) and their most wins since 2010-11 (57-25). They also finished with the fifth-most wins across the entire NBA in 2021-22. When Dallas got to 50-30, it marked its first time being 20 games above .500 since finishing the 2010-11 campaign 32 games above the benchmark.

The Mavericks wrapped up the 2021-22 season allowing the second-fewest points in the NBA (104.7 ppg), their first time in the 42-year history of the franchise finishing better than fourth in points allowed (finished 4th four times: 1988-89, 1989-90, 2006-07 and 2016-17). Dallas also ranked seventh in defensive rating in 2021-22 (109.1), after it finished 21st in the category just a season ago (112.3, 2020-21). It marked the team’s best defensive rating ranking since 2006-07 (5th, 102.1).

The fourth-seeded Mavericks are set to face the fifth-seeded Jazz in their opening-round playoff series. Game 1 tips off on Saturday, April 16 at 12 p.m. CT on ESPN

Embiid, Doncic named NBA Players of the Week

Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic were named NBA Players of the Week in their respective conferences for games played between Monday, April 4 and Sunday, April 10, the league announced Monday.

Doncic led the Mavericks to a 3-0 week with averages of 30.3 points (.467 FG), 9.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.8 minutes, while Embiid led the 76ers to a 2-1 record in games which he appeared. This last stretch of games led to him capturing the league scoring title at 30.6 points per game.

The 23-year-old Doncic began the week by posting game highs of 26 points and 14 assists to go with a team-high 8 rebounds in the Mavericks’ 131-113 win in Detroit. The win put the Mavericks 20 games above .500 for the first time since the 2010-11 season ended and marked the 50th win of the season for Dallas, its 15th 50-win season in franchise history and their first since 2014-15.

The following game, Doncic registered 39 points (12-21 FG, 7-14 3FG, 8-11 FT), 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block and a game-high +41 rating in 30 minutes during the Mavericks’ 128-78 victory over Portland, all without appearing in the fourth quarter. His +41 rating was the second-highest plus-minus of his career (+45 in 26 minutes vs. GSW 11/20/19, in what was a 35-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist, 4-steal effort). It marked Doncic’s 39th career 30-point, 10-rebound, 7-assist outing and he now needs just one such game to become the 11th player in NBA history to record 40-or-more 30-10-7 games. Michael Jordan currently ranks 10th ahead of Dončić with 44 career 30-10-7 games.

Doncic capped the week by helping the Mavericks defeat San Antonio with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists in the team’s 130-120 win in the season finale. With the team’s fourth consecutive win, the three-time All-Star helped Dallas improve to a season-high 22 games above .500 (52-30).

Embiid continued his streak of strong performances, extending his streak of 25-point, 10-rebound outings to 10 straight contests, which was the longest such streak of the season. No other player did so in more than seven straight games.

The week saw Embiid post averages of 38.7 points, 14.3 rebounds along with 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while also shooting .609 from the floor. Embiid was the only player in the league to post such numbers over the week.

Last Tuesday, against the Pacers, Embiid notched his second 45-point double-double of the season with 45 points and 13 rebounds, which made him one of three players with multiple such games. For his career, Embiid has six games of at least 45 points and 10 rebounds which are the second-most in franchise history.

In the second game of the week, Embiid posted his league-best 30th game of the year of at least 30 points and 10 boards against the Raptors.

In Embiid’s final game of the week, he finished with 41 points (14-17 FG) and 20 rebounds against the Pacers. This made him the fifth player in NBA history to score at least 40 points and collect 20-plus rebounds while shooting 80-percent-or-better from the floor. He joined John Drew and Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Pettit as the only players to do so.

Mavs’ Brunson on Doncic: ‘For some reason, I feel like he will be ready to go’

The Dallas Mavericks and their fans are hoping for the best when it comes to the status of All-Star guard Luka Doncic, who left Sunday’s 130-120 win over the Spurs with a left calf injury late in the third quarter and did not return.

According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Doncic, who had 26 points, eight rebounds and nine assists against the Spurs, will get an MRI on his calf this afternoon.

Dallas did have a shot at the third seed if the Warriors lost to the Pelicans. However, that did not happen as Golden State defeated the Pelicans in New Orleans, so the Mavericks will now be the fourth seed in the West and battle the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

Game 1 is Saturday afternoon in Dallas.

Jalen Brunson, who had 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists Sunday night, believes Doncic will find a way to be on the court Saturday in Dallas for Game 1.

‘”For some reason, I feel like he will be ready to go,” Brunson said after the game. “Knowing the competitor he is, I’m sure he will be ready. It’s unfortunate, but with a competitor like that, you can’t keep him down for long. We’re happy that, obviously, we won the game and things like that, but we will leave this for tomorrow and go from there…

“He’s probably a little upset that he is hurt. But, I went up to him, shook his hand, and asked if he is good. He looked at me and said, “Yeah.” Everybody just kind of looked at each other, nodded, and I had to go to a meeting. Like I said, I feel like he will be ready. We are talking playoff basketball now; no one is going to sit. If you can play, you can play. He’s a competitor, and he will be ready.”

Many may criticize Mavs head coach Jason Kidd for having Doncic in the game with the Mavs up 16 points in the third, but according to the Hall of Famer, injuries happen.

“I thought the guys did a good job there at the end of the third quarter to extend that lead,” Kidd said. “With that being said, injuries are part of a game; absences are part of the game; we’ll see how [Luka Doncic] feels. The nice thing is that we have won homecourt, so we don’t have to travel, and we got a week until we play.”

Look, you can criticize Kidd for having Doncic out there, and it might be justified, but to Kidd’s point, injuries happen, and again, Dallas was trying to get the third seed.

At this point, Dallas will have to wait and see if their best player will be available against the Jazz.

Listen below Brunson talks Doncic and win over San Antonio:

Doncic on 16th technical: ‘I think 100 percent it should be rescinded’

The Dallas Mavericks have clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs after routing the Blazers 128-78 Friday night at American Airlines Center Friday night.

Dallas(51-30) is currently the fourth seed in the West and could move up to third seed if they defeat the Spurs Sunday night in Dallas and the Warriors(51-29) lose one of their final two games.

However, the Mavs might be without Doncic, who got his 16th technical foul in-between the first and second  quarter from referee Tony Brothers Friday night. Unless the league rescinds the technical, Doncic would be suspended for the season finale.

Doncic, who had 39 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, including a 25-point third-quarter Friday night, discussed what happened with the technical.

“I mean, I wasn’t trying to get anything.,” Doncic said about the technical. “I don’t think [Elijah Hughes] did it on purpose, but he went through the back. I don’t know how I got a tech, honestly. I just asked [Tony Brothers], ‘how is that not a foul?’ and he gave me a tech, so I don’t really know how I got a tech there. That’s it…

“If you ask me, I think 100 percent it should be rescinded because it wasn’t a tech. No warning, no nothing. I was just asking.”

According to referee Tony Brothers, Doncic received the technical for “continuously complaining.”

“At the end of the quarter, he took a shot, and he felt he got fouled,” Brothers told the pool reporter after the game. “He started to complain to each of the officials. When I was walking toward the table, he was fifteen feet in the backcourt still complaining, so he got a technical for continuously complaining.”

Home-court advantage is a big deal for the Mavs as they improved to 20-4 in their last 24 games at American Airlines Center. In addition, if they can get to three seed and win in the first round, they could avoid the Suns in the second round, who swept the season series from the Mavs this season.

If Golden State wins their final two games, Doncic’s suspension won’t matter, but if the Warriors stumble and Doncic can’t go against the Spurs, well, Dallas might be kicking themselves.