Sixers, Mavs same fight. Like their counterparts in the East against the Heat, the Texans were forced to win this third game against the Suns to restart their series. Mission accomplished for Jason Kidd and his troop who showed control, dominating for a large majority of the game, despite concerns about personal fouls from Luka Doncic.
If Devin Booker started his game well with two consecutive award-winning baskets, the Mavs had a much better start overall in the first quarter. After missing his first three shots, Jalen Brunson finally started his series by chaining finishes in the circle before sanctioning from afar in transition. Also clumsy to start (1/7), Luka Doncic had the good idea to distribute to empower his teammates from the start.
Solidly in the lead after twelve minutes (29-20), the Texans took advantage of numerous enemy stray balls, generated by their defense, to keep their lead in the next quarter, despite not particularly high address percentages. Struggling with their 3-point shot, Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson kept harassing their opponents under or near the circle. The two men had already scored 30 points between them at the break (51-44).
The Suns’ revival didn’t really happen. Annoyed by arbitration decisions (some of which are actually questionable…), Chris Paul’s Suns, sanctioned with a technical foul, suffered an 8-0 in the first minutes after the break. Luckily Jae Crowder had a lucky hand behind the arc or Deandre Ayton maintained a minimum of offensive rebound activity. Insufficient, however, to call into question a gap which has widened a little more (82-67).
Despite the establishment of a “matchup” zone which sometimes paid off, the visitors missed opportunities to come back permanently under ten points with a more skilful Chris Paul at the end and a still effective Deandre Ayton below. Mikal Bridges pulled his team down to just eight points with a minute to play, but Reggie Bullock’s response from 3-pointers was instantaneous. Dallas, which was up to 18 points ahead, did not shake.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The Suns lost too many balls. Chris Paul had lost only four balls in the first two matches. That night, he lost almost double that, including six in the first half. Embarrassed by the opposing pressure, “CP3” surprisingly lacked lucidity, like a far too soft pass to a teammate, easily intercepted by Spencer Dinwiddie who only had to go on the counter-attack. The leader lost his 7 balls, almost as much as the entire opposing team, in… the only first period. Devin Booker also squandered possessions, so the Suns lost twice as many balls as the Mavs.
– Assaults at the Mavs circle. Mikal Bridges signed the only cons of his team, ie the lack of circle protection from the Suns. The latter were attacked by the pair Luka Doncic – Jalen Brunson, awkward from afar but well supported by the address on the periphery of Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith or Maxi Kleber. With their back duo, the Mavs scored 50 points in the opposing racket and only conceded 32 on their side.
✅ Luka Doncic and Jalen Bruson. The first signed a new full match by coming close to the triple-double. Out of address at the start, he did well to give his lieutenants confidence. The latter held the boat when the Slovenian had to make passages on the bench to manage his personal faults. His main support, Jalen Brunson, was expected after two failed first outings. His reaction took place since, showing great aggression throughout, he scored more points in this match alone than in the first two combined.
✅ Jae Crowder. Another full match for the winger who was the most skilful player, the most complete and the best scorer of his team. His address was again important to punish Luka Doncic in defense.
⛔ Suns point guards. We have already mentioned Chris Paul and his difficulties with “turnovers”. We must also mention the difficulties of his replacement Cameron Payne who signed very average entries into play. With in particular a missed ready-made layup as well as a heavy brick sent to 3-points during his first pass.
THE SITTING PASS
Luka Doncic first imagined getting a whistle past Deandre Ayton before ending up on the ground. It was from there, in a seated position, that he signed one of his 9 assists of the evening towards Dorian Finney-Smith who cut in the circle.
Game 4: in Dallas, Sunday, May 8, at 9:30 p.m.