Well, the Phoenix Suns put on quite a defensive display in front of BetOnline customers on Tuesday night, winning by 30 points and bringing themselves to within one victory of the Western Conference Finals. Now they are in a position to perhaps get a little rest before they move to the next step.
Of course there is work to be done, and if they are going to do it tonight, they'll have to do it in Dallas as they face the Mavericks in a game that begins at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN.
Game 5 was an absolute rout, as Phoenix was on the wrong end of a 110- 80 romp. The Suns stifled the Mavs, holding them to just 38% shooting from the field, including 25% triples. That latter figure is important, because Dallas came into the series knowing that it was going to have to make a lot of threes in order to advance.
The Mavericks are also getting beat up on the boards. During the regular season, Phoenix pulled down 77% of the available defensive rebounds. In this series, that figure has jumped to 86.4%. And Phoenix is averaging ten offensive rebounds per game.
In the NBA playoff betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, Phoenix is favored on the road:
Phoenix Suns - 2
Dallas Mavericks + 2
Over 212 points - 110
Under 212 points -110
Doncic came off an injury to play in this series, and he is averaging 32 points per game. But he is shooting just 30% from beyond the three-point arc. And that has been something of a problem for the Mavericks in negotiating a team that had the third-highest defensive rating in the NBA this year.
Phoenix has some very strong fundamental characteristics, not the least of which is that they are fifth in the NBA in scoring points in the paint. During the regular season, this was a very good shooting team, hitting 48.5% from the floor, 36.4% from downtown and 79.7% from the line. They were in the top ten in the NBA and all three categories. Chris Paul has had 13 turnovers over the last three games, but he's been a good shooter in this series, hitting 56% of his field-goal attempts.
In terms of the inside offense, Deandre Ayton has demonstrated the ability to exploit the lack of bulk on the Mavericks. In Tuesday night's game, he scored 20 points and had six offensive rebounds in only 22 minutes.
Max Kleber, who had experienced some success drawing Rudy Gobert out into open space as Dallas defeated Utah in the previous round, was a disappointment in Game 5, with a plus-minus rating of minus-22 in 24 minutes. His team couldn't hit the side of a barn, making just four out of 24 attempts from 3-point territory over the last three quarters.
Dallas is facing something of a fundamental matchup disadvantage here, in the respect that while they have allowed fewer three-pointers than any other team in the NBA, they are facing an opponent that has made more two point field goals than anyone else. In other words, the Suns don't need to be tremendously successful from the perimeter.
In the two road games they have played in the series, Phoenix has, in fact, mayde just 32.5% of their three-point attempts. Maybe they'll slump a little again from out there, but again, because of their ability to control the boards and score in the paint, that isn't death to them. So we can lay a couple of points on the road, as NBA coach of the year Monty Williams takes his team to the Conference finals once again.
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