Everything is to be redone for the Suns. After taking control of the series by winning the first two matches, they have just suffered another defeat in Texas, synonymous with equalization. But also a dynamic clearly in favor of Jason Kidd and his troupe.
By deciding to reduce the minutes of Dwight Powell, handicapped by fouls, Jason Kidd was quick to make it clear that the Mavs were going to play “small ball” in this part, with five players positioned behind the arc to attack. during part of the match.
This strategy quickly paid off as the Mavs, carried by a still lethal Luka Doncic and a fiery comeback from Davis Bertans, stuck 37 points to the Suns defense in the first quarter (37-25). While the Mavs did heavy damage from a distance, the visitors did the same, but in penetration. Devin Booker scored 19 points in a first offensive period dominated by Dallas (68-56).
The visitors, despite concerns about fouls from Chris Paul, returned from the locker room with better intentions, defensively in particular. A short-lived highlight since after missing seven shots in a row, the Mavs resumed their march forward after a rather improbable turnaround from Jalen Brunson at the end of possession (70-63). Then Luka Doncic repeatedly abused his size advantage over Cameron Payne while Frank Ntilikina returned a shot, still from 3-pointers, to breathe new life into Dallas (87-78) before the start of the last period.
Despite Devin Booker’s construction, at the heart of a game that saw a drop in pace in the second half, the Suns were unable to pick up more, due to the absence of defensive “stops”.
Dorian Finney-Smith took advantage of defensive oversights in their game in transition to send two decisive missiles six minutes from the end (97-83). Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder did try to bring Phoenix back, the Mavs always found a way to respond. Like two new award-winning shots by Reggie Bullock and Jalen Brunson, still served by Luka Doncic.
The latter signed a superb “spin move” in front of Cam Johnson to win the post and Dallas could afford the last minutes of fairly quiet play.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– Chris Paul’s nightmare with his faults. When Monty Williams fired his leader about forty seconds from the end of the first half, “CP3” already had three personal fouls on the clock. He had the bad idea to play his own rebound in front of Luka Doncic on the very last action before the break. Fourth foul, unheard of for him in a first half, but Monty Williams assured that his veteran was smart enough to play with. However, he took his 5th fairly quickly in the third quarter, a period that he therefore hardly played. Ditto for the next period since he left a hand trailing in front of Jalen Brunson. With nine minutes left to play, the Suns would have to do without their master to play, already “fouled out” without really challenging the refereeing decisions.
– The Texas deluge to 3-pointers in the first half. Luka Doncic attracting so much attention on him, the shooters of the Mavs have only to wait their turn, and the good pass of the Slovenian, in the corners. This is what Dorian Finney-Smith and Davis Bertans, author of a first fiery comeback, did spectacularly in the first period. The Texans have indeed scored 68 points in these 24 minutes with an almost unreal 14/24 behind the arc. The success was less there afterwards since they only signed a 2/11 from afar in the next quarter. However, they scored 20 award-winning baskets, double that of their opponents.
✅ Luka Doncic. He clearly abused the 3-point shot (1/10!), which caused his overall success percentage to drop. For the rest, not much to throw in the match of the Slovenian who was still able to sanction easily near the circle and found his shooters thanks to his good readings in the fixation, with or without a two-man. He also spent a good part of his evening on the ground, due to contact suffered.
✅ Dorian Finney-Smith. He was the most awarded player by Luka Doncic. The strong winger signed his best game since the start of these playoffs. He scored all of his points behind the arc and planted two very important consecutive award-winning baskets with six minutes remaining.
✅ Devin Booker. Solid match for the back of the Suns who had to take a little more control of his team’s attack, in the absence of Chris Paul. He was very aggressive in the circle and got a bunch of free throws.
⛔ Cameron Payne. Opposite feeling compared to Devin Booker with the substitute point guard. However, he had a great opportunity to show himself with the usual holder on the bench. He did not really benefit from it and moreover suffered in defense against the beefier Luka Doncic. Monty Williams thus preferred to do without a playmaker for the last period.
Game 5 : in Phoenix, on the night of Tuesday May 10 to Wednesday May 11.