Suns out to avenge playoff exit in meeting vs. Mavericks
The Phoenix Suns have dominated regular-season play with Dallas over the past three-plus seasons, but overshadowing that success is their epic collapse against the Mavericks in last season’s Western Conference semifinals.
Dallas won the final two games of those semifinals by an average of 30 points to reach the Western Conference finals and send Phoenix home earlier than expected.
But come Monday night in Dallas, the Suns will be looking to defeat the Mavericks for the second time this season and 11th in a row in the regular season. Phoenix rallied from a 22-point deficit to edge Dallas 107-105 on Oct. 19 in the season opener for both squads.
The Western Conference-leading Suns are also the hotter team entering the latest matchup. Phoenix has won seven of its last eight games while the Mavericks have prevailed in just two of their last seven contests.
The Suns started a two-game Texas road swing by pummeling the San Antonio Spurs 133-95 on Sunday. Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker scored 20 points apiece.
Booker was impressed Phoenix racked up 38 assists on 49 made field goals.
“Just reading the defense and taking what the defense gives us,” Booker said afterward. “Everybody shares the ball on this team. They threw a lot of blitzes and different type of defenses out there. Just get off the ball. The ball always moves faster than the defender.”
The Suns allowed just 11 second-quarter points and led 71-41 at halftime.
The big cushion allowed Phoenix to rest its starters as three reserves played at least 24 minutes and five saw at least 14 minutes of action.
Dario Saric, who started for just the second time this season, tallied 17 points in just 21 minutes.
“I think today’s NBA is usually four guards and one big and switching, a lot of switching,” Saric said. “You don’t change the defensive tactics all the time, but you need the two bigs down the stretch.”
Saric started the last two games due to Torrey Craig (groin) being sidelined. Craig could miss another game Monday while star point guard Chris Paul (heel) will sit out his 14th straight contest.
Dallas has been struggling of late but put together a solid game with Saturday’s 121-100 road victory over the New York Knicks.
Luka Doncic scored 30 points to reach at least that output for the third straight game. Tim Hardaway Jr. matched his season high of 28 points while draining a season-best eight 3-pointers.
The Mavericks knocked down 24 3-pointers in a franchise-record 61 attempts.
“I think it’s great that everyone’s in the locker room smiling,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said afterward. “Everybody saw the ball go in, we shared the ball, we played the right way.
“We’re a team that lives or dies by the 3, and (Saturday) we made them.”
The Mavericks trailed 59-52 at halftime but turned the game around by outscoring New York 41-15 in the third quarter.
“The way we played the third quarter, you saw that we can really play basketball,” said Doncic, who averages an NBA-best 33.4 points per game. “It was really enjoyable being out there with the team, especially in the third quarter.”
The game against the Suns is the start of a stretch in which Dallas plays five of its next seven games at home.
Big man Christian Wood sat out Saturday and is questionable for Monday due to a non-COVID illness. Wood has scored 20 or more points in five of his last eight appearances.
–Field Level Media