After falling behind early, the Phoenix Suns hunkered down on defense and allowed just 54 points in the final three quarters during a 30-point blowout victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavs. After blowing a 2-0 series lead and losing two consecutive games, the Suns are back in control with a 3-2 lead.
Even though the series returns to Dallas for Game 6 on Thursday, the Mavs find themselves a +2 home dog against the reigning Western Conference champs. The Suns are now -700 odds to win the series and pick off the Mavs. The Mavs are +500 underdogs to run the table with back-to-back wins in Game 6 and Game 7 and upset the Suns.
The Suns saw an uptick in their title odds after their Game 5 win. You can back the Suns at +230 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship according to a recent update by DraftKings.
Suns: Big D, new troop rotation
Monty Williams won the NBA Coach of the Year for a reason. He knows how to press the right buttons to get his team to get the job done. He also knew when it was time to ditch a losing hand and shuffle the deck with a new bench rotation.
The Mavs started off hot in the first quarter and Williams got on his team’s case to play better defense.
“The energy wasn’t where it needed to be for this type of game,” said Williams.
The Suns fell behind by eight points, but trimmed the deficit to just 26-23 at the end of the first quarter. The Mavs shot 53% in the first quarter, but the Suns put the clampdown the rest of the game and the Mavs shot just 33% in the final three quarters. The Suns smothered the Mavs on the perimeter and the Mavs went cold, shooting just 16.6% from 3-point land after the first quarter.
“We sort of hung our hat all season on the defensive end,” said Chris Paul. “We just wanted to try and be better on the defensive end tonight and let everything else take care of itself.”
When it came time to sub in players, Williams passed over Cameron Payne and JaVale McGee, who were outgunned in the previous two games. Williams tapped Landry Shamet and Bismack Biyombo as the first guys off the bench. The move paid off and the two high-energy reserves played stellar defense, especially Biyombo who shut down the Mavs’ pick-and-roll game.
Booker led the Suns with 28 points, Deandre Ayton added 20 points and nine rebounds, and the team shot 49.4% overall. Cam Johnson emerged from a mini-slump and chipped in 14 points off the bench.
Luka Doncic scored 28 points in a losing cause for the Mavs, but the Slovenian wunderkind struggled with just 2-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Jalen Brunson added 21 points, yet the other three starters accounted for just eight points. Reggie Bullock and big man Dwight Powell both posted goose eggs, combining for zero points.
“The one thing we didn’t do great today was our pace,” said Doncic. “In the last two games, our pace was very good. They are one of the best defensive teams, if not the best, in the NBA. They held us to 80. That’s pretty impressive. We’ve got to move the ball and have better pace. Play faster.”
The Mavs trailed by three a halftime, but were demolished at the start of the third quarter. The Suns unleashed an 11-4 run and the Mavs never recovered after falling behind by double digits. The Suns outscored the Mavs 33-14 in the third quarter when their shooters were ice cold.
“We just didn’t have any energy in the second half,” said head coach Jason Kidd. “Our flow didn’t happen. Credit the Suns. They did not give us any easy buckets in the second half.”
After a disappointing performance in Game 5, the Mavs return home to Dallas for a do-or-die elimination game. The Mavs won both of their games in Dallas this series with a nine-point victory in Game 3 and a 10-point win in Game 4. They shot a high volume of 3-pointers at home with 83 attempts, including 20 made treys in Game 4. The Mavs hope their gunslingers are locked and loaded in Game 6 if they expect to extend the series and stave off elimination.
Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.