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.

Suns’ Williams: ‘If there’s one award that exemplifies team, it’s the Coach of the Year award’

Last season, when Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams did not win NBA Coach of the Year, many of his players were not happy, so they did something about it.

This season, the Phoenix Suns were even better as they had the best record in basketball, which helped Williams get the award.

On Monday, Williams was named NBA Coach of the Year.

Williams received 458 points (81 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins finished in second place with 270 points (17 first-place votes).  

According to Willians, this award is not about him but the team.

“If there’s one award that exemplifies team, it’s the Coach of the Year award because there’s not a coach in the NBA that has bad intentions for the program or the players,” Williams said. “Nobody walks in the gym saying and hope that their guys to play poorly… In order to get an award like this, it takes a lot of people.”

The Suns had a 64-18 record in the regular season, the most victories, and the highest winning percentage (.780) in a season in franchise history. 

Phoenix won a franchise-record 18 consecutive games from Oct. 30 – Dec. 2, 2021. The streak included a 16-0 record in November, tied for the second-most wins in a month without a loss in NBA history, trailing only the Atlanta Hawks’ 17-0 record in January 2015.

This is Williams’ third season as the Suns’ head coach. Last season, he guided Phoenix to a 51-21 record and its first appearance in the NBA Finals since the 1992-93 season, finishing in second place in the voting for the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year Award. 

Currently, the Suns and Mavericks’ Western Conference second-round series is tied at 2. The pivotal Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

The voting results for the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year Award are below:

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.

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.

 

 

Paul on Bridges: ‘He doesn’t miss games, he guards the best players every night’

Coming into Game 5 of their first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Phoenix Suns won two games because of two 19-point fourth quarters from Chris Paul. CP3 got the job done for the Suns in Game 5 as he had 22 points and 11 assists. However, Mikal Bridges was the star of the game.

Bridges, who finished second for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, tied a playoff career-high with 31 points on 12/17 shooting from the field, including 4/4 from downtown, five rebounds, two steals, and four blocks in 47 minutes of action as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 112-97 at Footprint Center to take a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6 is Thursday night in New Orleans.

Bridges did it on both ends of the court. According to StatMuse, the players he guarded were 3/17 from the floor with seven points.

“He doesn’t miss games, he guards the best players every night, and then he has 31,” Paul said.

Bridges, who has never missed an NBA game in four seasons, was ready to keep on playing after the win.

“I’m ready to play tomorrow. I’m teed up, man,” Bridges said. “I’m energized; my teammates keep me going. You got me itching my knee right now because I’m talking about it. I need to calm down, I need to breathe, but I’m just ready, man.”

Deandre Ayton, who had 19 points and nine rebounds, added on Bridges: “The man takes care of his body, and he approaches the game the same way every day; he doesn’t change.”

Without Devin Booker, it’s all hands on deck for the Suns, and Bridges got the job done. The Suns have to end this series in Game 6; Phoenix does not want to be in a position where they have to play a Game 7. The Suns are the better team, and as the better team, they have to put the Pelicans away Thursday night.

Suns will have to play ‘extra games’ to defeat New Orleans

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has sustained a mild right hamstring strain, the team announced Wednesday.

According to the team, an MRI revealed the injury, and there is no timetable for his return.

According to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, Booker is expected to miss Games 3 and 4 but could return later in this series.

The injury occurred in the third quarter of Phoenix’s 125-114 loss to the Pelicans in Game 2 of their first-round series. Booker scored all 31 points, including seven threes, in the first half. 

New Orleans led Phoenix 77-74 with 4:35 left in the third when Booker exited with the injury. The Pelicans would outscore the Suns 48-40 the rest of the way and would win 125-114.

The series is tied at 1, and Game 2 is Friday night in New Orleans.

Booker missed seven games with a strained left hamstring injury during the regular season. Phoenix was 8-6 without Booker this season.

Hamstrings can be tricky, but hopefully, this is not an injury that will keep Booker out for an extended period. Phoenix’s only goal is a championship. They went to the NBA Finals last season and have the best record in basketball this season, so anything short of a title would be a disappointment. 

Here’s also the issue, you can’t play “extra games” in the playoffs, and now the Suns will be playing at least an extra game and possibly more in this series. 

It’s next man up for the Suns, so guys like Landry Shamet and Cam Johnson have to step up. New Orleans has the momentum, but Phoenix is still the better team, even without Booker.

However, winning this series has just gotten a little complicated for the Suns, but just like they have all season long, expect the Suns to play well without Booker.

Notes:

Chris Paul had his second consecutive double-double in this series as he finished with 17 points and 14 assists Tuesday night. 

 

Suns’ Ayton on Paul’s performance in Game 1 vs. Pelicans: ‘Man, that is the CP3 Show’

Great players do great things in the playoffs, and Chris Paul is a great player, and Sunday night in Game 1 of Phoenix’s first-round series against the Pelicans, that greatness was on full display.

Phoenix led 53-34 at the break, but the Pelicans outscored the Suns 37-25 in the third quarter and had some momentum going into the fourth, but then, the “CP3 Show” commenced.

The 12-time All-Star scored 19 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to go along with seven rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 110-99 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

At age 37, Paul became the oldest player to record 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. 

“Man, that is the CP3 Show,” Deandre Ayton said postgame. ‘We got a little taste of it.’

“Classic Chris,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. 

With Phoenix leading 80-73, Paul scored or assisted 19 straight points for the Suns to take complete control of the game. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul became the fifth player with ten career playoff games of 30 points and 10 assists, joining LeBron James (22), Michael Jordan (15), Jerry West (14), and Oscar Robertson (12)

“It’s just reading the game,” Paul said. “We watch games all day, every day. We got to watch all the games yesterday. We watched the games today. We know in the playoffs, teams aren’t going to lay down.”

Williams had more praise for his point guard.

“He’s not only a great point guard, but he’s a great basketball player,” Williams said.

After making the Finals last season, the goal for the Suns is an NBA title. Barring anything unforeseen, the Pelicans can’t defeat Phoenix. So, in reality, to avoid injuries, the Suns have to sweep this series to play as few games as possible as they look to win an NBA title.

Suns’ Paul: ‘I’m grateful to be here with this group’

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns killed two birds with one stone in their 121-110 win over the Lakers. Phoenix eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention, and more importantly, the Suns picked up their 63rd win of the season, setting the franchise record for wins in a season.

The previous record of 62 wins occurred during the 1992-93 and 2004-05 seasons. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams, who became the head man in 2019, helped spearhead the turnaround. Phoenix went from losing 63 games in the 2018-19 season to winning 63 games and possibly more this season.

“It started with the young guys we had that first year, the bubble, last year, and then the individual stuff that we’ve seen guys achieve along the way, and then tonight is unbelievably special for so many people,” Williams said post-game. 

“Not just the organization, but the people in the city that have basically birthed the Suns. Everywhere I go, people talk about the Suns are their baby, and to have us playing this way, achieving this goal tonight is huge for the valley. It’s hard to put it into words, but we’re all pretty grateful, and we talk about celebrating everything, and there’s just so many people that have a huge part in this, from the players, who are the main cogs in it all, but in particular, ownership, James (Jones), but also people like Jay Gaspar and Denise Romero, who just have grown up in this organization and it’s special to see them excited about what we’re doing.”

Maybe the biggest reason for the turnaround in Phoenix was the acquisition of Chris Paul. None of this happens without CP3. Paul also became the first player in NBA history to be a part of four teams that set franchise records for wins, but for the 12-time All-Star, who helped lead the Phoenix to the NBA Finals last season, it’s all about winning a title.

“It’s all good and well,” Paul said. “It would be nice to put a championship with all that. That’s the goal; that’s what we’re working towards. I don’t take that lightly, though, because it’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of hard work that goes into year-in and year-out playing and competing. At the end of the day, you want to have a chance. You at least want to have a chance, and I’m grateful to be here with this group.”

Deandre Ayton was there for the 19-63 season, and he, like everybody else on the Suns, is happy to get to 63 wins.

“Me and Mikal (Bridges) were looking at each other four years ago, bro; we were at the bottom pit of the barrel,” Ayton said. “We almost thought we weren’t a part of the league. For a minute, I thought we were playing people to play us my rookie year, the way that we were losing. We here, man, and seeing all the fans and the community just so happy, just so supportive, all that helps.”

Winning 63 games is all well and good, but the Suns have to cap it off with a championship!

Suns’ Booker named Western Conference Player of the Week

After leading the Suns to a perfect 3-0 record over the past week, moving Phoenix to a league-best 61-14 on the season, guard Devin Booker has been named the Western Conference Player of the Week for March 21-27, the NBA announced today.

Booker averaged 37.3 points in the three games on 58.1 percent shooting (42.9 percent from three-point range), 6.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds. Booker opened the week with 28 points and 7 assists in the team’s 125-116 win at Minnesota. In the win, Booker became the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to reach 11,000 career points, trailing only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

A night later, Booker netted a season-high 49 points, to go along with 10 assists and 3 steals in a 140-130 win over the Nuggets in Denver. His 49 points are the most by a player who also dished 10+ assists in the same game in franchise history. With the game taking place on March 24, Booker, who passed Amar’e Stoudemire for sixth on the Suns’ all-time scoring list in the game, is now averaging 48.0 points in three career games on March 24, the highest scoring average on a single date in the regular season in NBA history (min. 3 games played).

The three-time All-Star concluded his week with a 35-point performance on March 27 in a 114-104 win over Philadelphia. Booker scored 22 of his points in the first quarter for his 18th-career 20+ point quarter, the third-most in the NBA since the 2016-17 season trailing only James Harden (22) and Stephen Curry (23).

Phoenix currently hold a nine-game lead over Memphis for the best record in the NBA this season, as the Suns has already clinched the top record in the league and home court advantage throughout the Playoffs.

Additionally, the Suns are one win shy of matching the franchise record for wins in a season with seven games remaining in the regular season. Phoenix holds a 30-6 record in road games this season, a better road winning percentage than every team’s home winning percentage, and is the only team in the league this season to rank in the top-three in offensive (2nd), defensive (2nd) and net (1st) rating. Led by Booker, Phoenix has been the NBA’s best team in the clutch this season, ranking first in offensive and net rating in the clutch and second in defensive rating, while holding the league’s best record in clutch games at 31-6.