Phoenix Suns overwhelmed by Mavericks spirit drop Game 3
DALLAS — Some efforts can catch a team off guard. The Dallas Mavericks’ desperation in Game 3 against the Phoenix Suns was expected 2-0 in a series, and yet it had the Suns on their backs all night as if it caught them off guard in a 103-94 loss. friday.
“Honestly, I just felt like they wanted it a little more than us tonight,” Suns forward Jae Crowder said of the Mavericks. “They played harder, they played more aggressive. I don’t want to say it was what we expected, but at the same time they had pride. They are playing at home for their season, so they outplayed us tonight and came out with a win.
Dallas managed to locate some form of defensive pressure, denying more lanes of traffic and not allowing as many clear openings. That launched the Phoenix backcourt to the tune of 12 points, four assists and seven turnovers for Chris Paul and 18 points, six assists and five turnovers for Devin Booker.
“It wasn’t like us,” Booker said of the loss. “You can credit them. They went out, played hard, played desperate. But that’s it. We have a series.
It’s weird for either of these guys to end up up there in turnovers, but even weirder they had 22 combined shot attempts, especially in a game the Suns had to chase. All night long.
“It’s just turnovers,” head coach Monty Williams said of those low shot attempts. “You give them 17. And those two, they never have those high turnover games like that. We would like these guys to get more attempts, especially with the total minutes they had. It’s something else that I have to watch the movie and see.
Paul had six such turnovers midway through the second quarter. On Friday, the 37-year-old who just turned 37 is so far ahead of the game that when he makes these mistakes, they look like the simplest turnover one can make.
“I felt like all seven of them were back to back too,” he said. “Two more back to back there too.”
Booker is such a consistent player at a pace that it’s telling he can’t seem to get his pulse to match the pace of the game. Even when he scored in Game 3, there were a lot of difficult shots with lots of traffic, not in the usual flow he finds them in.
You don’t need two hands to count the number of times these two haven’t played well in a game for the Suns this season, and as expected, it’s cratered the Suns’ offense.
“I just felt like they went to great lengths with them to come up with these tips or 50/50 balls. … When you see us at 94 points and 23 assists, it’s just not a typical game for us, but they brought it from the jump,” Williams said of Dallas. “You felt the physicality.”
The Suns’ historic offensive efficiency through eight playoff games had a hard landing of a regression-to-average. A 32.3% shooting efficiency on 31 midrange attempts, an area where Phoenix sat at 52.5% in those eight games, significantly affected his final field goal percentage of 44. .7%, by Cleaning the window.
Phoenix also missed a handful of rabbits, which honestly matches the number of mental lapses we’ve seen from the group on both ends. Williams said there were a few times his guys didn’t see the open-back teammate, the type of breakdown the Suns normally capitalize on at will.
Dallas deserves a ton of credit for creating an environment for all of this to happen. The Mavericks ultimately looked like the very good defensive team they were in the regular season and outshot nearly every member of the Suns to win the battle for second-chance points 16-10 while committing just eight turnovers against the Suns. 17 from Phoenix and producing 22 points on those turnovers.
“I think we lost this game tonight,” Crowder said of the 50/50 balls. “He’s one of those guys who wants more. They played more desperately. They played harder. That’s what it’s about. »
This led to the Mavericks taking 14 more shots than the Suns, a deficit that makes comebacks immensely more difficult.
“It’s tough because you put them there in transition,” Paul said of the Suns playing on their back feet due to turnovers. “With a team like that, you start letting the other guys go. You see Jalen (Brunson) had a big game, 28 (points). I think if we take care of the ball, we get more shots. It’s on me. We only have 76 shots and they have 90. That’s a huge difference. We will be better on Sunday.
And Phoenix was chasing that comeback from the jump.
Dallas led by nine in a first quarter that included a 19-3 surge and still managed a seven-point halftime advantage despite a poor second quarter in which it could have been over 20 given the ineptitude of the Suns.
The Mavericks regrouped at halftime and played much better the next two quarters. They immediately went on an 11-2 run in the opening 2:48 of the second half to secure a much more plausible 16-point advantage.
From there, the Phoenix offense found pockets of play to make up ground, but just couldn’t be consistent enough with it or generate enough saves to come close.
“I didn’t feel like we had any rhythm at all tonight on offense, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “We saw flashes of it, but we just didn’t have the same type of offensive connection that we had in Phoenix.”
The split wasn’t reduced to single digits until 4:11 remained, and the Suns couldn’t do it before during two different stretches where Mavericks star Luka Doncic had to sit out due of a fault problem.
“We went out in the second half [and cut it to seven] and then bam, bam, bam, it was in my teens,” Williams said. “And then we cut it again, then we gave up a 3 or a 50/50 ball for a 3. We just couldn’t put it up tonight.”
Doncic had his third consecutive strong offensive game, contributing 26 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two steals. More importantly, he was in the trenches on 50/50 balls just as much as his teammates.
Dorian Finney-Smith on Luka Doncic: “The first or second possession, he was on the ground. When the best player does that, it sets the tone.
—Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 7, 2022
The difference was that his backcourt teammate Brunson was picking up his great game this year after two poor games in Phoenix. He scored the aforementioned 28 points on 10 of 21 shooting.
Crowder was the only Sun to play well. He had 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.