The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks played two games in Phoenix, and based on what happened in those matchups, there was little reason to believe they'd be playing Game 5 in Arizona. The top-seeded Suns, winners of 64 games in the regular season, looked well on their way to a sweep of the Mavericks before Friday's Game 3. Now, all of a sudden, Dallas is 48 minutes away from tying this series at 2-2.
After two enormous games from Luka Doncic in Phoenix, the Dallas supporting cast stepped up when the Mavericks returned home. Their defense, which had been torched on the road, allowed just 94 points on their home court. Now we'll see if that game was a fluke or if Dallas has really figured out what it needs to do to hang with the NBA's best team. Here's how you can tune into the Game 4 action.
(1) Phoenix Suns @ (4) Dallas Mavericks
- When: Sunday, May 8 | 3:30 p.m. ET
- Where: American Airlines Center -- Dallas, Texas
- TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: DAL +105; PHO -125; O/U 214.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Mavericks: Luka Doncic scored 80 points in the first two games of this series. He didn't even lead the Mavericks in scoring in Game 3. After two slow games, Jalen Brunson picked up where he left off against Utah and gave Dallas 28 huge points. Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock did their part as stout defenders, and the Mavericks managed to beat the Suns as a team rather than as a set of role players orbiting one superstar. That's the balance Dallas needs to strike the rest of the way. Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie have to take some of the shot-creation burden off of Doncic. Their defense needs to protect him when he is switch-hunted. If Dallas is going to win this thing, it must do so as a team.
Suns: In the second round last season, Chris Paul committed just five turnovers in the entire series. That was a four-game sweep over the Denver Nuggets. In this year's second round and Dallas, Paul was just as safe with the ball in Game 1 and only slightly worse in Game 2. Then he turned it over six times in the first half of Game 3. That's not happening again. Jae Crowder isn't leading the Suns in scoring again either. By virtually any measure, Game 3 was an outlier for Phoenix. We've seen Dallas beat the bizarro Suns. Now let's see how they handle them in a more normal game.
If you want to bet on Paul committing seven turnovers again, be my guest. I feel relatively comfortable suggesting that the Suns will play a much sharper game on Sunday, and until Dallas has proven it can prevent the Suns from picking on Doncic defensively, I'm going to lean Phoenix. The pick: Suns -1.5