The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks will face off in one of two Western Conference semifinal matchups after taking similar paths to get here. Bothe teams suffered injuries to their star players that forced them to miss time, but still overcame that adversity to take care of their opponents in the first round. The Suns faced a scrappy Pelicans team that gave them more trouble than anyone expected, while the Mavericks outlasted a Jazz team that couldn't take advantage of a Dallas team that was without Luka Doncic for three games.
While the Suns swept the Mavericks 3-0 in the regular season, Doncic didn't play in two of those matchups, and in the lone meeting where Doncic did play it was a closely contested contest. This series should be an exciting one filled with plenty of star power. With that said, here's everything you need to know ahead of Game 1 between Phoenix and Dallas.
(1) Phoenix Suns vs. (4) Dallas Mavericks
- When: Monday, May 2 | 10 p.m. ET
- Where: Footprint Center -- Phoenix, Arizona
- TV: TNT | Live stream: TNT app
- Odds: PHX -230; DAL +190; O/U 214.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Suns: Though the Suns were tested against the Pelicans, they match up incredibly well against a Mavericks team that lacks size. Phoenix will surely try to take advantage of Dallas' small-ball lineups, with big man Deandre Ayton being at the center of it all. Ayton said after shootaround on Sunday that he knows the Mavericks will try to go small against him, but he doesn't expect it to significantly impact the way the Suns play.
"At the end of the day, if it ain't broke don't fix it...and our stuff over here ain't broke," Ayton said.
Ayton should have another dominant series against the Mavericks, which should bode well for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick as he enters restricted free agency expecting a big payday. Game 1 will be all about both teams feeling each other out, and I expect Ayton to have a big night as the Mavericks don't have a real answer for the dominant big man.
Mavericks: It will be interesting to see how the Suns defend Doncic, because in the past Mikal Bridges has been the primary defender on the 23-year-old superstar guard. While Bridges has made life tough for Doncic in previous matchups, it's not as if Phoenix has managed to completely shut him down. But if Bridges and Jae Crowder do manage to neutralize Doncic, it will be up to Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie to pick up the slack.
Brunson has already proven he can do that, but Dinwiddie struggled heavily in the first round to provide consistent offensive production when he was on the floor. Dallas will need Dinwiddie to play like the guy who averaged 15.8 points on 49 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep after acquiring him at the trade deadline this season if they want to stand a chance against the Suns.
I think the Suns will try to set the tone for this series and impose their will against the Mavericks in Game 1. I expect Ayton to have a big game, which will force Dallas coach Jason Kidd searching for answers in how to contain him going forward in this series. Pick: Suns -5.5