In what has been a surprising back-and-forth series, the Mavericks and the Suns are at a stalemate heading into Game 5 at the Footprint Center. Following two straight wins from the Mavericks, both by the double-digits, the No. 1 seed Suns are reeling as the series heads back to Phoenix. Led by All-Star guard Luka Doncic and his backcourt mate, Jalen Brunson, Dallas has turned the tide in the series and knotted the action at 2-2. However, the Mavericks still have not had much success in the state of Arizona this season (0-4, including the postseason) so they still have to get that monkey off their back if they want to outlast the Suns.
For this article, SBS will go over what to look for from each team and who will take home the win in Game 5 of this series at the Footprint Center.
In Games 3 and 4 against Dallas, the Suns were stymied at times by the gritty Mavericks. For the former, Phoenix was unable to get their offense going throughout the game and Dallas was able to consistently control the tempo of the contest from the middle of the first quarter to the game’s conclusion. Though the Suns did see a nice effort from power forward Jae Crowder (19 points), the main Phoenix stars (Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton) had uneven performances. The trio finished with a combined 52 points, which, while serviceable, is below what you would want from your best three players in the NBA Playoffs. While things did get better for Phoenix in Game 4 with Booker going off for 35 points, Dallas still won by a 10-point margin.
What Phoenix really has going for itself in Game 5 is home-court advantage. As mentioned above, Dallas has yet to win at the Footprint Center during this current season and lost by an average of 13.5 points in the first two games of this series. While Booker has shown he can certainly light up the scoreboard, he will need a balanced performance from himself and his teammates if they want to stop the Mavs in their tracks. Also, though Phoenix was able to outrebound Dallas in Game 4 (45 to 36), the Suns were careless with the basketball as they turned the rock over 17 times. Compare this to eight turnovers from the Mavericks, and the Suns already know where they can close the gap in Game 5.
Coming up big when they needed to, the Mavericks are riding a hot streak heading into Game 5. Thanks to a big performance from Brunson in Game 3 (28 points), Dallas will be in a fantastic spot if they can secure the win on the road in Phoenix. Also, in Game 3, the Mavericks saw a fantastic night from Donic, who nearly secured a triple-double with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists. The formula should be similar going into Game 5, with the Mavericks employing a new approach designed to fluster the high-flying Suns. Another important performer for Dallas was small forward Reggie Bullock who chipped in 15 but had a tremendous +15 plus-minus mark for the contest.
For Game 4, the Mavericks used a similar approach but were unable to stop the scoring prowess of Booker. However, even with the star Phoenix scorer obliterating the box score, Dallas still kept the game in hand thanks to some superior three-point shooting and turnover management. Outshooting the Suns by a margin of nearly 10 percentage points (45.5% to 36%) from three-point land and winning the turnover battle with a difference of plus-six, Phoenix led the game from the first quarter on. While these last two games have not been blowouts by Dallas, they have been exactly what the doctor ordered for the upstart Mavericks.
Prediction: With the Suns on the ropes, Dallas still has to prove it can win in Arizona. That will not be the case on Tuesday night as Phoenix will rebound to win Game 5 at home.
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