After not looking like themselves and dropping the last two games of this series in Dallas, the Phoenix Suns responded with a 110-80 win on their home floor versus the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Now leading this series 3-2, the Suns have the upper hand over the Mavericks and are just one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive season.
Offensively, Phoenix still struggled at times to get things clicking from three-point range, but their defense really stepped up and they played to their strengths in this game.
Exposing the Mavericks’ offense and attacking their secondary talents next to Luka Doncic really worked in Games 1 and 2, which is why head coach Monty Williams and his staff reverted to this philosophy in Game 5.
Dallas was held to just 80 points on 38% shooting from the floor on Tuesday. Three-point shooting is what propelled the Mavericks to two home wins over the Suns in this series, but they shot just 8-32 (25%) from deep in this one.
Game 6 of this series will be played down in Dallas on Thursday night, a game that will surely be filled with physical play.
As for Game 5, here are three key takeaways from the Suns’ dominant performance.
“Hero-Ball” Triumphed Again For Dallas
The reason the Dallas Mavericks won Games 3 and 4 at home, besides their high defensive effort, was because of how well they “spread the wealth” on offense.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, Jalen Brunson and others were all getting involved offensively besides Luka Doncic. Early on in this series, Doncic had the ball in his hands way too many times and the Mavericks were content with allowing him to constantly play one-on-one, resulting in them losing the first two games in Phoenix.
In Game 5, Dallas once again relied too heavily on Doncic playing “hero-ball” and as a result, they got walloped by the Suns on Tuesday night.
Perhaps the biggest thing that sticks out from this game is the fact that the Mavericks had nine assists the entire way and one assist came in garbage-time at the end of the game, so they really only had eight true assists.
The ball movement in this game was non-existent for Dallas and with them constantly playing one-on-one with Doncic at the top of the arc, Phoenix was able to slowly collapse their defense and focus in on the Mavericks All-Star because they knew he was not going to be giving the ball up.
This is the main problem the Mavs have with their offense right now and as we have seen in this series, good things happen when they move the ball.
Heading into Game 6, this must be a point of emphasis for head coach Jason Kidd, especially if they want to have a chance at forcing a Game 7 in the desert.
Deandre Ayton’s Size Is Too Much For The Mavs To Handle
While he sometimes goes unnoticed, Deandre Ayton is quickly becoming one of the top big men in the NBA. The former No. 1 overall pick has the size and stature to be a beast in the paint against smaller teams in this league and against the Mavericks, he has proven this.
At times, Ayton has been underutilized against Dallas, but they went back to him in Game 5 and Ayton delivered, scoring 20 points on 9-13 from the floor and bringing in nine total rebounds.
Dallas does not play center Dwight Powell very much and as a result, they go small with Maxi Kleber at the center position. Kleber is not a bad big man and he is actually an above-average defender, but he does not have the height to be able to contend with Ayton, which is why the young Suns’ center is the key for them.
Feeding Ayton and playing through the post should be a point of emphasis for the Suns simply because his presence offensively opens up the floor for others to get involved.
With Dallas focusing on Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges are able to move freely on the perimeter and create plenty of opportunities to score by cutting to the basket.
Ayton’s ability to attack the paint on offense has been a huge difference for Phoenix in this series and heading into Game 6, they will likely look to build off of his success in Game 5.
17-0 Runs Tend To Result In A Win
What they did in the third quarter is what allowed the Phoenix Suns to win Game 5 on Tuesday night.
They not only outscored the Mavericks 33-14 in the third, but the Suns went on a 17-0 scoring run in the quarter that Dallas had no answers for. Between role players hitting shots, the Suns’ defense getting stops and the crowd being deafening, this is the point in the series where all the momentum shifted back to Phoenix.
Because Luka Doncic could not score using his “hero-ball” mentality and because the Mavericks were not getting others involved, the Suns took hold of this game and absolutely ran away with the victory.
No matter what the score is in a game, the team that normally goes on a 17-0 run is going to win and that proved to be true in this one for Phoenix.
The Suns were one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league this season, so a run like this is really not too surprising for them, especially against a mediocre offensive team like the Mavericks.
Devin Booker is one of the best all-around scoring weapons in the league right now and with others getting involved and knocking down shots, Phoenix completely sucked all the energy and momentum out of the Dallas Mavericks franchise in Game 5.
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