Tonight, the Mavs and Suns will play the second game of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix looked like they were in mid-season form and jumped out to a big lead in Game 1, in which they cruised to a 121-114 victory. With their lineup now healthy, they resembled the same team that ran off an 18-game winning streak during the regular season.
Luka Doncic was all alone on Monday night, carrying the Mavs on his back while scoring 45 points and dishing out eight assists. The rest of his team was pretty ineffective, as only three other players scored in double figures. Nevertheless, the Suns came out of the gate with a quick 9-0 run and never trailed in the game.
Dallas may have lost by only seven points in Game 1 of this series, but the difference was much worse for the Mavs than the score indicated. Without more production from players like Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas will continue to be dominated while using the smaller lineup that they’re used to. Dwight Powell came up big on the glass in the last series against Utah but was limited to one rebound in 16 minutes on Monday night.
Coach Jason Kidd has a lot to think about in his strategy for Game 2. Before the loss of Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline, Dallas out-rebounded the Suns by 10 in their matchup in January. Kleber played at the five on Monday night but is more of an outside threat, spending much of his time beyond the three-point line while Phoenix killed them on the boards.
Now that both Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker are healthy, the Suns look like the team that deserves to be the favorites to win their first NBA title in 2022. Ayton was unstoppable on Monday, scoring 25 points, and Devin Booker had 23 while playing for the second time since missing three games with a hamstring injury.
The Suns had their way on the boards vs. the Mavs, with Ayton and Javale McGee having a huge size advantage against any of the Dallas big men. Kepler had 16 points in the first half against the Suns, but Phoenix ended with a 51-36 edge in rebounding on the night. With the win in Game 1, Phoenix extends their win streak to ten games against the Mavericks, going back to the 2021 season.
The Mavericks are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games and are 0-6 in their previous six road games in Phoenix. The total has gone over in five of the last six games for the Suns, and they are 4-1 against the spread in their previous five games.
The Mavericks can’t afford to go back home in an 0-2 hole against the best team in the NBA. The way the Suns are playing, it looks like that’s exactly what will happen. If Dallas doesn’t figure out how to control the boards against this Phoenix team, their first two games at home in this series may be their last. Godds Pick/Prediction: The Suns will win, and the total goes over.