Biggest Key to Mavericks-Suns Series: Stopping Luka vs Luka Spreading the Wealth
The Mavericks-Suns series begins tonight and for the Phoenix Suns that means defending Luka Doncic. It’s not just stopping Luka from getting his own shot, him getting to his spots. Luka’s ability to get into the paint and throw lobs for Dwight Powell will be something for Deandre Ayton to keep an eye on. Mikal Bridges should draw the assignment of guarding Doncic most of the time. Bridges must find a way to stay in front of him while closing out under control on Luka’s jumpers. The Suns must make sure to rotate to Dorian Finney-Smith and close out on his three as well. Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dimwiddie can help take the load of Luka as well. Slowing them down will not be easy. Both had strong series for Dallas against the Utah Jazz.
One of the best ways to slow down someone like Doncic is forcing him to work on the defensive end. Involving Doncic in pick and roll with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Ayton helps to do that. Doncic’s a willing rebounder as well. Keeping him off the offensive and defensive glass has to be a priority of Phoenix’s front line, given that he is 6’7″.
Suns Bench Must Contribute More for Phoenix to Advance
The Suns bench, Cameron’s Payne and Johnson in particular, struggled against the New Orleans Pelicans. They, along with Javale McGee and Landry Shamet off the bench, gave the Suns strong production this season. Plenty of games there was little to no drop off when the starters sat.
The Suns depth against Dallas must show up. Phoenix depth of talent was one of the the biggest reasons it had the best record in the NBA this season. 7 of the teams top eight players missed time due to injury. If the Suns bench plays the way it did the majority of the season then Phoenix can have the deep run the team and fans expect.
The Mavericks-Suns series should not be as difficult for Phoenix as the Pelicans series was. Dallas does not have a long, athletic team like New Orleans. Phoenix’s rebounding issues should not be as great because of that. Dallas shooters are not on the level of the Golden State Warriors. Because of that Phoenix’s drop coverage, keeping defenders back away from the three point line to guard the paint, should not cost the Suns as much. Yes, Doncic’s greatness is undeniable. Paul and Booker have more help surrounding them. The Suns depth and defense helps them advance to their second consecutive Western Conference Finals in 6 games.
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