Winning the first game of a series is now routine for the Suns. For the sixth time in a row, including their playoff campaign last year, Arizona players got the best start of a series by firing the Mavs without much difficulty. The latter, despite a narrow gap at the end, were in the lead throughout the game and never seemed able to make a difference.
The Suns were the first to attack their opponents. The recipe is well known: to defend yourself hard to shoot in transition. This is what Devin Booker and his family have asked for in order to afford a 15-point lead after seven minutes of play (22-7). Already plagued by personal concerns, the Mavs began responding with their remote address. One man particularly stood out when he came into play: Maxi Kleber. Thanks to him and the coach Luka Doncic, the Texans have gained a little (35-25).
We quickly realized Dallas had to worry less about scoring than defending. The danger was indeed coming from all over before. Chris Paul contented himself with pivoting as Deandre Ayton dominated on the inside while Jae Crowder or Cameron Payne found the colors up front on their first round. The Suns, however, were left unanswered against Luka Doncic’s party who always found a way to sneak up on the circle. The Slovenian already had … 26 points to rest but his team, with almost 70 points conceded, remained behind (69-56).
A much less conspicuous second period, which started offensively with the same problems for the Mavs, who are still struggling to hinder the Suns’ better ball circulation. With a less inspired Luka Doncic, the Texans have relied on outside address to keep in touch but the Phoenix defense has raised the tone, as this counterattack by Mikal Bridges on Reggie Bullock’s long shot for a corner or a violation of the 24 seconds obtained. .
The locals thus presented themselves with a comfortable advantage after three quarters (96-79). This gap was maintained in the following minutes, marked in particular by an interception by JaVale McGee in front of Luka Doncic before going to dunk in “coast to coast”. The Suns, however, were guilty of slowing down in the final moments as the guests continued to play to the end to return to two possessions. A return ultimately without consequences on the final result.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The starting gun of the Suns. A classic jumper for Chris Paul in his backyard, an alley-oop from Devin Booker to Mikal Bridges, then a left-handed ending by Booker himself still in transition: Phoenix went 6-0 after a few seconds of play. – 0 turned into 18-6, then 22-7 after seven minutes of play. Warm starts, with great defensive intensity and quick attacking play, are the hallmark of many games. Only here this opening gap, about ten points, will be maintained for almost the entire match. This is to say if these first few minutes have allowed Phoenix to set the tone for the future.
– A relaxation in the last minutes. This sense of mastery that emerged in the Suns game for three quarters, however, was questioned at the end of the game. While Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie found a semblance of address and Luka Doncic increased his share of points, the Suns attack stalled. On the same possession, however, marked by two offensive rebounds, Chris Paul then Devin Booker missed the target by 3 points opening. Below, Deandre Ayton missed four finals. The Suns, who have long shot at 60% success, 50% of which from a distance, have thus lowered their percentages. But without getting really scared in the final seconds as Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges ensured their team the perfect evening on free throws.
TOP / FLOPS
✅ Deandre Ayton. Despite his failures in the last quarter, the pivot signed a great match dominating Dwight Powell. He took advantage of the lack of protection in the opposing circle to score at will. It should be noted his good agreement with Devin Booker who sent him several times to the “alley-oop” trapping the defense of the Mavs.
✅ Cam Johnson. We could have named most of the five Suns players but the finalist for the best 6th man trophy also made an important contribution. Confident with his outside shot, he has signed his best game so far in these playoffs.
✅ Luca Doncic. Great performance by the Slovenian who, after the first half of fire (26 points), had to slow down in the third quarter before restarting when we thought the game was over. He got close to the triple double but drew five stray balls, including several passes where his teammates didn’t follow his idea that they ended up in the stands.
✅ Maxi Kleber. His 3/3-pointers in the first quarter gave his team a big boost. The German, also author of a great counterattack on Landry Shamet, scored his five prize-winning baskets shortly after entering the game before exiting for the remainder of the match.
⛔ Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie. 21 points at 9/24 on cumulative hits… And again, without the last moments, this ratio would have been much worse. Luka Doncic’s two offensive lieutenants passed. We do not know if the former was disturbed for having been authoritatively opposed by Devin Booker (sanctioned for technical foul for having chambered) at the beginning of the game but he missed a lot of refinements near the circle. His teammate, coming off the bench, was much less enterprising in attack.
51-0. Last night, the Suns fueled an impressive statistic at home: They have never lost this season when they are leading after three quarters, or 51 wins (including the playoffs). They are obviously the best team in the league in this area. The record belongs to the Lakers with 60 games in a row.
Game 2: in Phoenix, on the night of Wednesday May 4 through Thursday May 5, at 4:00 am.