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A seven-point victory in favor of Phoenix really does not tell the real story in Game 1 of this Western Conference Semifinals series between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks.

Up as many as 21 points at one point and up 17 points entering the fourth quarter, the Suns pretty much stopped playing aggressive the final 12 minutes of this game, resulting in Dallas “getting back into” this game.

From the start, the Suns dominated the Mavericks on both ends of the floor and they never trailed once. Devin Booker looked pretty normal given that he suffered a hamstring injury in his team’s previous playoff series and overall, the Suns really did not struggle on Monday night.

On the other side of things, Dallas really struggled to get anything going against Phoenix’s strong defense. Luka Doncic scored a game-high 45 points, but nobody else really stepped up for the Mavericks, casting doubt on their ability to contend in this series.

Really nothing went wrong for the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of this series and while the first games can sometimes be “fools gold,” the Suns are no fools.

This team won a franchise record 64 games during the regular season and entered the playoffs as the favorite to win the NBA Finals. Dallas is going to have their hands full the rest of this series and they are going to have to make some major adjustments to their style of play if they are to make this series competitive.

Here is what Game 1 between the Mavericks and Suns taught us.

Luka Doncic vs. All Of Phoenix

Luka Doncic is an incredible, sensational, generational-like talent, let’s not get that wrong.

Scoring 45 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 8 assists against the Phoenix Suns was extremely impressive, but it is hard to look past the fact that Doncic and the Mavs are a one-man team right now.

Compared to the Suns and all the talent they have up and down their roster, the Mavericks just do not have the same amount of firepower to match up with Phoenix in a seven-game series, which is why defense is going to be the only way Dallas can potentially keep things close.

How they defend the Suns is unknown and maybe there is not a way they can stop them in this series, but Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton combined for 67 points in Game 1. Cam Johnson added 17 points off-the-bench, Mikal Bridges had 13 points and Jae Crowder had 11 points for Phoenix.

Against the best team in the league, this cannot happen if you are the Mavericks, especially if your offense is going to be dormant.

Outside of Doncic, the Mavs shot 45.5% from the floor, which is not terrible, but they were never able to get to the spots on offense that they wanted and it seemed like their mid-range game was completely taken away by the Suns.

Jalen Brunson struggled to get going and if it was not for Maxi Kleber hitting five threes off-the-bench, this game would have looked like more of a blowout than it actually was!

Slowing down the pace of play and getting the shots that they want on offense is going to be critical, especially since it is very clear that Luka Doncic cannot carry his team in this series.

He may have been able to single-handedly beat the Utah Jazz, but Jalen Brunson did step up in this previous playoff series and gave  the Mavericks some much needed secondary scoring.

Whether it is Brunson or someone else, the Mavericks need a No. 2 scorer to step up next to Doncic in order to simply contend in this series against the Suns.

Playoff Ayton Is A Beast

We all know what Chris Paul and Devin Booker can do on the floor, but Deandre Ayton has been a question mark at times this season. Some ankle problems bothered him and forced him to miss time during the regular season, but now back in the playoffs and fully-healthy, Ayton is proving to be the beast we remembered him as during Phoenix’s run to the NBA Finals last year.

In their first-round series against New Orleans, Ayton averaged 20.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and shot 70% from the floor. In Game 1 against the Mavericks on Monday night, the former No. 1 overall pick scored 25 points on 12-20 shooting and he grabbed 8 rebounds.

One of the biggest weaknesses the Mavericks have as a team lies in their frontcourt, as they really do not have any avid rim-protectors or physical big men that can keep up with Ayton’s production.

The Mavs lineup of Doncic, Dinwiddie, Brunson, Bullock and Finney-Smith at the center position seemed to give Dallas a little bit of a jolt in this game, but in doing so, they gave up a ton of size on the interior, allowing Deandre Ayton to do as he pleases.

Being the “third option” at times on the Suns, Ayton has transcended himself into being a high-level center in this league that can affect the game in more ways than one, especially given that he is a very efficient scorer.

How the Mavericks plan to deal with him could very well determine if this series will be over quickly in favor of Phoenix.

Phoenix Has The Edge Rebounding

Last series, the New Orleans Pelicans did a great job of attacking the Suns on the offensive and defensive glass, outrebounding them in almost every single game.

In this series though for Phoenix against the Dallas Mavericks, it is the Suns that now have the edge in terms of rebounding simply because the Mavericks lack size.

Phoenix outrebounded Dallas 51-36 in Game 1 and this is a trend that will likely continue simply because the Mavs do not have size on the interior.

We know Luka Doncic is going to do Luka Doncic things and flirt with a triple-double almost every game, but both Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie cannot be counted on to be high-level rebounders and Dwight Powell had a lot of trouble against the Suns on both ends of the floor in this game, resulting in him only playing 16 minutes at center.

Going small gives the Mavs an edge in terms of attacking on offense and spreading out the Suns’ defense, but the size they give up is way too much to cope with, especially since we mentioned before how Deandre Ayton is having his way in the paint.

The Suns’ edge in terms of rebounding in this series is what makes them a heavy favorite each and every game and it is a big reason why they could easily take 2-0 series lead heading to Dallas.

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