After losing 11 straight games to the Phoenix Suns coming into Game 3 of this series and falling down 0-2 in the series, the Dallas Mavericks now have won two straight after defeating the Suns 111-101 tying the series at two games each.
The way they shot the ball all game, was the ultimate difference.
They made 20 three’s and fed off their home crowd on Mother’s day. They led by as many as 17 in this game and never trailed after midway through the first quarter. The 37 points they scored in that opening quarter was the most points they scored in any quarter of this series, and they made eight of their 3-pt’s.
The two best players from each team Luka Doncic (Dallas) and Devin Booker (Phoenix) both picked up technical fouls in the first quarter and emotions were running high. It didn’t affect either player as they both led their respective teams in scoring.
Phoenix was able to make things difficult for Doncic despite his double-double with 26 points and 11 assist (game-high). He only shot 9-25 from the field and only made one of his ten 3-pt attempts.
Doncic, who didn’t get much help from his teammates with scoring in Games 1 & 2 in Phoenix, got those contributions from almost everyone who played significant minutes. Four other players made at least two 3-pt’s, led by Dorrian Finney-Smith who scored all of his points from deep as he made 8-12. He also led his team with eight rebounds. “Luka told me when I had five 3s, he told me, ‘You’re about to get some more,'” said Finney-Smith, who finished one shy of the Dallas franchise playoff record of 9 3s by Jason Terry in the Mother’s Day rout of the Lakers. “When LD tells you you’re about to get some more 3s, I figured I was going to get some.”
“Everybody who gets on the court leaves everything out there so this team is special,” Donicic said about the others playing well. “If we play hard and get stops, we are a dangerous team.”
Jalen Brunson, who struggled in the two games in Phoenix with just a combined 22 points, followed up his 28 point performance in Game 3 with 18 points. “We’re talking about a lot,” Brunson said on going at Paul. “When we know a player’s in foul trouble, no matter who it is, we’re trying to apply the pressure that way. He’s so crucial to that team. If we can get him out of the game, obviously in a clean way, we’re trying to exploit that.”
David Bertans was a huge boost for the Mavericks off the bench as he made his first four 3-pt’s and finished with 12 points. Other key bench players Max Kleber had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Spencer Dinwiddie had 10 points.
“Coming back home we just talked about one game,” head coach Jason Kidd said about his team’s mindset after going down 0-2. “We put ourselves in a position to win and we finished it.”
The Suns shot under 50% for the second consecutive game after shooting above 50% in their first eight games of these playoffs.
A key reason they might have struggled to get easy looks as they normally would, is because their floor general and unquestioned leader Chris Paul was in foul trouble for most of the game (4 fouls in the first half) and fouled out with 8:58 left in fourth quarter. It was just the fourth time in Paul’s career that he has fouled out in a playoff game. He played just 23 minutes and just had four field goal attempts and finished with five points and seven assist.
“I’ve got to look back at it,” Paul said on his fouls. “I mean, I can’t put myself in the situation to give them that ability to do that. I’ve just got to look at myself and figure out how to do better.”
Booker tried to put this team on his back as he scored a game-high 35 points (12-13 FT) and had seven assist.
“Last year was a learning experience for us,” Booker said. “We went to six games last year with the Lakers, six games with the Clippers, six with the Bucks, six with New Orleans (this year). We understand that it’s a series. It’s the playoffs for a reason.”
Wingman Jae Crowder who is known for his defense, chipped in with 15 points despite leaving the game in the first quarter with foot/ankle injury, but later returned. DeAndre Ayton had a quiet 14 points but grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Suns turned it over for 34 times over the past two games.
Doncic Spoke about the job they have done on Paul: “That’s Reggie(Bullock) and Dorian. Those guys’ defense is unbelievable, and they are the Warrior’s that we follow.”
Now crucial Game 5 returns to Phoenix and the Suns will bounce back, because they have been the most consistent team all year. So there is nothing showing it will be any different. Both teams have protected their home floor thus far, we’ll see what adjustments both teams will make.
Game 5: Tuesday Night in Phoenix.
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