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NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns

Luka Doncic, Mavs demolish Suns with 33-point blowout in Game 7

May 16, 2022, 2:29 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic recorded 35 points and 10 rebounds and the Dallas Mavericks dismantled the host Phoenix Suns with a convincing 123-90 victory in Game 7 to claim a spot in the Western Conference finals.

Spencer Dinwiddie poured in 30 points off the bench and Jalen Brunson added 24 as fourth-seeded Dallas steamrolled the top-seeded Suns. The Mavericks led by as many as 46 points while reaching the finals in the West for the first time since winning the 2011 NBA Finals.

Dallas will face the third-seeded Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. Game 1 is Wednesday night in San Francisco.

Devin Booker scored 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting in his first career Game 7 for the Suns, who won an NBA-best 64 games. That output also set a franchise record.

Booker missed his first nine field-goal attempts before sinking a jumper with five minutes left in the third quarter.

Starting anchors Booker, Chris Paul (10 points, 4-of-8 shooting) and Deandre Ayton (five points, 2-for-5) totaled 26 points on combined 9-of-27 shooting. Overall, Phoenix shot 37.9 percent from the field, including 12 of 34 from behind the arc.

The Mavericks were the first road team to win in the seven-game series. Dallas lost its first three visits to Phoenix by an average of 19 points, including a dismal 110-80 setback in Game 5.

After falling behind 2-0 and 3-2 in the series, Dallas won the final two games by an average of 30 points.

The Mavericks shot 56.8 percent from the field and made 19 of 39 from 3-point range in the wire-to-wire victory. Doncic was 6 of 11 from behind the arc and Dinwiddie made 5 of 7.

Cameron Johnson scored a team-high 12 for Phoenix.

The home fans booed the Suns off the court at halftime when the score was 57-27. Phoenix's halftime total matched the output of Doncic, who was 9 of 12, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

Dinwiddie added 21 in the half on 7-of-10 shooting and 4 of 5 from behind the arc.

Meanwhile, the Suns' trio of Booker (0 of 7), Ayton (1 of 4) and Paul (0 of 4) were 1 of 15 for six points in the half.

Doncic scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Mavericks built a 27-17 lead.

Doncic (15) and Dinwiddie (13) combined for 28 points in the second quarter as Dallas outscored Phoenix 30-10.

After halftime, Dallas scored 15 of the first 20 points to stretch the lead to 40 at 72-32 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.

Dinwiddie's final 3-pointer, coming with 48.3 seconds left in the stanza, gave the Mavericks a 92-50 lead and they remained well ahead in the fourth quarter while finishing the startling wipeout win.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic, Mavs chase huge prize in Game 7 vs. Suns

May 15, 2022, 6:34 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

All the pressure is on the Phoenix Suns when they host the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The home team has won in the previous six games of the series, and the Mavericks have lost seven straight games on the Suns' home floor since a victory early in the 2019-20 season.

Dallas also was annihilated 110-80 in Game 5 in Phoenix.

A Mavericks' win would shake like an earthquake, as well as send a team that lost in the 2021 NBA Finals home much sooner than expected.

The top-seeded Suns won an NBA-best 64 games in the regular season.

The situation allows the fourth-seeded Mavericks to play freely while the Suns' play will be dissected if they were to be eliminated in the second round.

"Me personally, I'm not really worried about what they have to lose or not," Dallas guard Jalen Brunson said. "I'm worried about what we're capable of doing and how are we going to let our season end."

The Mavericks remained alive with a scintillating 113-86 rout of the Suns in Thursday's Game 6 in Dallas.

The Mavericks committed just seven turnovers in the game while forcing Phoenix into 22.

"The turnovers. Terrible, unacceptable. It's that type of game where it was just unacceptable, man," Suns center Deandre Ayton said. "Them dudes, they wanted it more. I think after every loss we've had, they've shown that they wanted it more. It just wasn't a team that didn't want it. And it showed. Dramatically."

Phoenix coach Monty Williams couldn't believe his eyes as the turnovers mounted and his team finished with its lowest point total of the entire campaign.

"They played harder than us and we typically don't allow that," Williams said. "We understand that we turned it over and we did not have a focus. Our concepts in our defensive coverages was nowhere near average."

The Suns have been unable to lasso Luka Doncic, and the Dallas point guard was superb with 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and four steals.

Doncic is averaging 32.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.2 steals in the series.

"I think he enjoys the moment," Mavericks first-year coach Jason Kidd said. "You guys have seen (it) a little bit longer than I have up close. He's not afraid of the stage. I think you guys call it the first time winning an elimination game. He'll be in this situation a long, long time."

While Doncic is now 1-2 in elimination games, Suns star Devin Booker will be in his first Game 7.

Phoenix didn't make the playoffs in any of Booker's first five seasons. When the Suns broke the drought last season, three of their series ended in six games and the other was over in four.

"Greatest two words in sports," Booker said of the term Game 7. "I'm excited to feel the energy. I'm excited to be a part of it. It's a great opportunity."

Booker is averaging 25.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the series but he had a shaky outing on Thursday. He scored 19 points but was 6-of-17 shooting and committed eight turnovers.

Phoenix also will need a better effort from veteran point guard Chris Paul, who had 13 points but five turnovers compared to just four assists.

Ayton stood out for the Suns with 21 points and 11 rebounds in Game 6 for his third double-double of the series.

Doncic received help from Brunson (18 points) and Reggie Bullock on Thursday. Bullock stunningly made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points and he sees his club riding the energy of the impressive 27-point win.

"We know what we need to bring to this game," Bullock said. "It's a hostile environment, but we've got all the energy behind us right now. It's about us just performing that on Sunday."

--Field Level Media

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks

Suns favored to close out Mavericks in Dallas

May 12, 2022, 6:25 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are one victory away from a second straight trip to the Western Conference finals.

To clinch a spot on Thursday night, they have to do something they haven't yet done in this series: Win in Dallas against the Mavericks.

The Suns lost Games 3 and 4 in Dallas and aim to become the first road team to win in the best-of-seven conference semifinal series. They hold a 3-2 series lead after blistering the Mavericks 110-80 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Dallas guard Jalen Brunson is hopeful that the home trend will continue in Game 6.

"I guess it's a credit to the fan bases," Brunson said. "Our fan base is great for us. Their fan base is great for them.

"Home-court advantage is a real thing. Respect to both fan bases for making it difficult for the away team."

Despite Phoenix's lack of success in Dallas, the Suns are 1.5-point favorites at BetMGM and backed by 87 percent of the spread bets and 92 percent of the handle. The 2.0-point line at DraftKings has also seen one-sided action with Phoenix drawing 81 percent of the spread bets and 75 percent of the handle.

Suns point guard Chris Paul understands the challenge his club faces Thursday.

"That Game 3 and 4, it really bothered us a lot," Paul said of the two setbacks in Dallas by an average of 9.5 points.

Regardless of the venue, Dallas will have to put together a much better third quarter than the one that ruined its chances of winning Game 5.

The Mavericks committed nearly as many turnovers (12) as points scored in the stanza. The Suns outscored Dallas 33-14 to take a 22-point lead into the final quarter.

"It was the defense," Suns coach Monty Williams said of the reason for why his team pulled away. "When we get stops like that and are able to get out in transition, it gets us going. It gets the crowd going. And I firmly believe that defense travels. It's the one thing you can do in any gym."

Mavericks star Luka Doncic said his team never got its offense into gear.

"The one thing we didn't do great was our pace," Doncic said. "In the last two games, our pace was very good. I think they are one of the best defensive teams, if not the best, in the NBA. They held us to 80. That's pretty impressive. We've got to move the ball and have better pace -- faster."

Doncic recorded 28 points and 11 rebounds on Tuesday and is averaging 32 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists in the series.

Brunson added 21 points as the backcourt combined for 49 points. The rest of the Mavericks totaled 31 on 8-of-31 shooting.

Dallas topped 100 points in each of the first four games before Phoenix stymied the attack.

"We pride ourselves on the defensive end all year," Suns guard Devin Booker said. "I think that's when we're at our best, when we're not taking the ball out of the hoop and playing a slower-paced game.

"We like getting stops, getting out in transition because we have a lot of athletes, a lot of people that can make plays for each other."

Booker scored 28 points in Game 5, falling just shy of his third 30-point effort of the series.

Booker is averaging 26.8 points in the series and is shooting a stellar 50 percent (16 of 32) from 3-point range.

"Book has shotmaking ability that's unique to very few people and in those moments when we need him to settle us down," Williams said. "Sometimes it's scoring that can settle you down."

The end result is that the Mavericks have their backs against the wall.

"When you talk about the playoffs it's about protecting home court," Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. "It's hard to win on the road. So far, both teams have held serve. Now our goal is to hold serve in Game 6."

Bettors have been divided on the 211.5-point Over/Under at DraftKings, where the Over has been backed by 69 percent of the bets while the Under has drawn 59 percent of the handle.

The market opened at 213.5 points at BetMGM but has shifted to 212.5 with the Under backed by 85 and 93 percent, respectively.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks

Suns strong home favorites ahead of pivotal Game 5 vs. Mavericks

May 10, 2022, 6:19 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Western Conference semifinal series between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks has followed a pattern.

The home team has won every game and the series is tied 2-2 going into Game 5 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

The Suns have held steady as 5.5-point favorites ahead of Game 5 by BetMGM, where they had been backed by an overwhelming 91 percent of the spread bets and 95 percent of the handle as of Tuesday morning. The action had been similar at DraftKings with Phoenix backed by 63 and 96 percent, respectively, as a 6.0-point favorite.

Suns guard Chris Paul was outstanding in his team's two wins, and unusually ineffective in the Mavericks' two wins.

Paul averaged 23.5 points and 3.5 turnovers in Games 1 and 2, but his seven first-half turnovers in Game 3 and foul trouble in Game 4 helped a resurgent Dallas team knot the series 2-all.

"If you don't have CP out there," said Luka Doncic, who led the Mavericks with 26 points in their 111-101 victory Sunday. "It's for sure tougher on (his) team."

Paul's struggles made things harder for the Suns, but they didn't hand anything to Dallas, which played much better at home than it did on the road. The Mavericks, who gave up an average of 125 points in Phoenix, held the Suns to less than 50 percent shooting in each of the last two games after they had shot 50 percent or better in their first eight playoff games.

"Our defense won us these two games," Doncic said.

Dallas' 3-point shooting was a major factor in Game 4. The Mavericks made 20 of 44 from beyond the arc. Dorian Finney-Smith led the way by scoring a playoff career-high 24 points on a career-best 8 of 12 on 3-point attempts.

Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber (24 3-pointers in the playoffs) and Reggie Bullock (29 playoff 3s) have been testing the perimeter defense of the Suns.

Paul went to the bench after committing his third foul with 1:52 left in the second quarter, but coach Monty Williams put him back in the game with 45 seconds left.

The move backfired when Paul committed a fourth foul with one second left in the half, colliding with Doncic while trying to rebound his own miss.

"I should've kept Chris out of the game, especially right before halftime," said Williams, one of three finalists to be Coach of the Year.

Paul was called for his fifth foul 2 1/2 minutes into the second half and sat out the rest of the third quarter. After returning early in the fourth he fouled out with 8:28 left in the game and played only played three minutes and 58 seconds in the second half.

"I've just got to look at myself and figure out how to do better," Paul said.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 points, but with Paul finishing with just five, Phoenix couldn't keep up.

"We understand that it's a series," Booker said. "It's the playoffs for a reason. "We're going to make our adjustments. ... I think we just have to flush it and move on to the next game."

Phoenix committed 17 turnovers in each of the games in Dallas, leading to 22 Mavericks points in Game 3 and 23 points in Game 4.

"That's not us," said Jae Crowder, who scored 15 points Sunday. "We haven't done that all year."

The Mavericks guaranteed themselves another home game -- Thursday is Game 6 of the best-of-seven -- and have performed well in their own building.

"It's 2-2 and we worked to be in this position," Williams said. "So I told our guys, we've got to have the mindset of coming back here and winning this thing."

The Over had also seen lopsided action at both sportsbooks as of Tuesday morning. The 213.0-point market had seen the Over drawing 84 percent of the bets and 91 percent of the handle at DraftKings.

The slightly higher total of 213.5 points at BetMGM had seen the Over backed by 59 and 48 percent, respectively.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks fans banned till 2023 for attempting 'unwanted hugs'

May 9, 2022, 10:51 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks banned two fans from American Airlines Center until 2023 for attempting to give "unwanted hugs" to members of Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul's family.

The incident occurred during the Mavs' 111-101 win on Sunday, which tied the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Arena security and Mavericks executives concluded their investigation on Monday.

"Two unruly fans attempted to give unwanted hugs and have conversations with members of the Paul family on the public concourse of American Airlines Center," read their statement. "AAC security responded immediately once notified by the family and the fans were swiftly ejected from the game. The fans involved in the incident will not be allowed to return to the arena until 2023."

The fans were not identified.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns

Report: Suns' Monty Williams voted NBA Coach of the Year

May 9, 2022, 8:52 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Monty Williams is the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Phoenix Suns to a league-best 64-18 record, The Athletic reported Monday.

Williams, 50, was runner-up to the New York Knicks' Tom Thibodeau in last season's voting.

Phoenix earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and broke the franchise record for wins, shared by the 1992-93 and 2004-05 squads at 62-20.

The Suns are currently tied at 2-2 in their conference semifinal series with the Dallas Mavericks. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Williams, who led the Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals, is 149-78 through three seasons with Phoenix. He is 322-299 overall, including five seasons with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans from 2010-15.

He is the third Phoenix coach to win the award, joining Cotton Fitzsimmons (1988-89) and Mike D'Antoni (2004-05).

--Field Level Media

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks

NBA fines Mavericks $25K over 'bench decorum' in Game 2

May 6, 2022, 9:52 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks were fined $25,000 by the NBA on Friday after being declared in violation of "rules regarding team bench decorum" during Wednesday's playoff loss against the Phoenix Suns.

The punishment was announced by the NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell.

The league said numerous players along with one member of the Dallas coaching staff failed to follow protocols and remain in designated bench areas during the Suns' 129-109 win in Game 2 in Phoenix. Per the league, the guilty group "stood away from Dallas' team bench and were on or encroaching upon the playing court during game action."

With the loss, the Mavericks trail their Western Conference semifinal series 2-0 with Game 3 to be played Friday night in Dallas.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns

Suns favored to build 3-0 lead at Mavericks

May 6, 2022, 6:24 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

In their first-round Western Conference playoff series win over the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks allowed just 99 points per game, keeping Utah under 100 points three times.

But the top-seeded Phoenix Suns have been much more difficult to stop, averaging 125 points in taking a 2-0 lead in the conference semifinals.

They're also favorites entering Game 3, backed by 83 percent of the handle at -1.0 points at DraftKings and 87 percent at -1.5 points at BetMGM.

If fourth-seeded Dallas is to make Phoenix sweat, it's going to have to tighten up its defense, beginning with Game 3 of the seven-game series on Friday night in Dallas.

For starters, the Mavericks will need to force tougher shots. The Suns have canned at least 50 percent from the field in all eight playoff games, including a blistering 64.5 percent Wednesday night in a 129-109 Game 2 win.

That included a 13 of 25 performance from the 3-point line, which upped Phoenix's effective field goal percentage over 73 percent. And in the fourth quarter, which started with the Suns nursing an 89-83 advantage, they were 16 of 19 from the field.

"We have good players," Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. "I'd love to sit here and tell you I'm moving the chess pieces around, but we have good players who can knock down shots."

Devin Booker scored a team-high 30 for the Suns and Chris Paul added 28, going 6 of 7 from the field for 14 points in the fourth quarter. Paul and Booker led the way as Phoenix turned a close game into a 122-95 advantage, then coasted to the finish line.

Despite his team's inability to string together stops consistently, Dallas coach Jason Kidd is pointing the finger at the Mavericks' imbalance on offense. Luka Doncic scored 45 in Game 1 and 35 more on Wednesday night, but there's not been enough help.

"We got to get other guys shooting the ball better," Kidd said. "We can't win with just him scoring 30 a night, not at this time of year. And we're playing the best team in the league. We got to get other guys going."

Two guys in particular that Kidd wants to see get off the mark are Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie. Those guards, along with forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell, have combined to score fewer points (66) than Doncic in the first two games. They also have fewer assists (12) than Doncic (15).

"We got to get JB and Spencer a rhythm and get them good shots for Game 3," Kidd said.

It might be fair to wonder if it matters what Dallas does when it plays the Suns. Wednesday night's result was Phoenix's 11th consecutive victory over the Mavericks. And it also extended the Suns' perfect streak when leading after three quarters. They are 52-0 this season, counting the playoffs.

When asked about his big fourth quarter Wednesday night, Paul's words could have also explained why Phoenix has been such a good closing team.

"You've just got to lean on the work," he said. "It all goes back to the work. You can't cheat the game. You've got to do the strength and conditioning, you've got to lift, you've got to get your rest, you got to get your shots up.

"When you do that, you live with the results."

The 219.0-point Over/Under at DraftKings has seen the Over backed by 70 percent of the bets and 54 percent of the handle. The market has held at 219.5 points at BetMGM, where the Over has drawn 63 and 60 percent, respectively.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns

Suns' Game 2 odds shorten ahead of hosting Mavs

May 4, 2022, 7:12 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic put on a show in Game 1 but not enough of his Dallas Mavericks' teammates joined him on stage.

Doncic will look to make Act 2 better than the first when the Mavericks visit the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, looking to knot the Western Conference semifinal set at a game apiece.

Phoenix opened as a 5.5-point favorite at BetMGM but the line climbed to 6.5 by Wednesday with the Suns backed by 76 percent of the spread bets and 71 percent of the handle. The 6.0-point line at DraftKings has also been one-sided with Phoenix drawing 63 and 79 percent of the spread action, respectively.

Doncic recorded 45 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in Monday's 121-114 road loss. It was a game Dallas never led and trailed by as many as 21 before staging a frantic fourth-quarter comeback that made the score respectable.

The major problem was that Doncic was a one-man ensemble. He scored more points by himself than the rest of the Mavericks' starters combined (39).

"He got whatever he wanted, when you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also I thought he got his teammates some great looks that we normally had made," Dallas coach Jason Kidd said afterward. "I thought he played great.

"We've just got to get someone to join the party."

Among the players on the invitation list are starter Jalen Brunson and reserve Spencer Dinwiddie.

Brunson, who averaged 27.8 points in the first round against the Utah Jazz, was just 6-of-16 shooting and scored 13 points. Dinwiddie averaged 15.3 points against Utah but had just eight in the opener against Phoenix.

Doncic said he felt Dallas didn't attack the inside enough -- the area where dominant Suns center Deandre Ayton hangs out -- and didn't do a good job making things tough for the potent Phoenix offense.

"I think our defense lost us the game," Doncic said. "Our start on the defensive end was terrible, and we've got to change that. I know we can play way better defense."

Six Suns scored in double digits led by Ayton (25 points) and Devin Booker (23).

Booker is struggling to regain his shooting stroke after missing three games in the first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans due to a right hamstring injury.

Booker was just 7-of-20 shooting in Game 1 versus the Mavericks after having 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting in the final game against the Pelicans.

Chris Paul contributed 19 points but was less than thrilled that Phoenix's lead of 106-85 with 8:48 remaining was whittled down to five before the club held off the Mavericks.

"We'll take the win," Paul said. "It's not always going to be pretty. We played well most of the game. We'll look at the film and see what we need to do differently for Game 2."

Phoenix will certainly do a thorough investigation of what it can do to limit Doncic's output.

The 23-year-old superstar raised his career playoff average to 33.4 points in just 17 games. The mixing and matching of defenders on him in Game 1 didn't lasso him in the least.

That means Suns coach Monty Williams will look to dig deeper into the bag of tracks for Game 2.

"Anytime a guy has 45, you look at that number and you don't like it, but I look at their assist numbers," Williams said. "They only had 16. So, (Maxi) Kleber hit some 3s, but for the most part, nobody else got going the way that they're capable of."

The Mavericks were 16 of 39 from 3-point range, with Kleber (19 points) making 5 of 8 and Doncic sinking 4 of 11.

Phoenix made 11 of 28 from behind the arc but stepped up big at the free-throw line, making all 18 attempts. The Suns were 8 of 8 in the final 47.3 seconds to thwart the Dallas comeback bid.

The Over/Under for Game 2 moved from 215.5 points to 216.5 at BetMGM with the Under backed by 59 percent of the handle but the Over drawing 60 percent of the total bets. The total is 216.0 points at DraftKings with the Over heavily supported by 78 percent of the bets and 82 percent of the handle.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans

Suns favored at home in Game 1 as Mavericks visit

May 2, 2022, 7:30 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Two teams hoping their top scorers can stay healthy will tip off their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Phoenix Suns for Game 1 on Monday night.

Both teams overcame the absence of their young superstars in tough first-round matchups. The Mavericks ousted the Utah Jazz, and the Suns survived the eighth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans, both winning in six games. But Dallas was without Luca Doncic and Phoenix was missing Devin Booker for three of the six contests.

Doncic missed the first three games of the Utah series with a calf strain suffered in the final week of the regular season as the Mavericks were attempting to improve upon their No. 4 seeding in the West.

The league's third-leading scorer during the regular season at 28.4 points per game, Doncic picked right up where he left off upon returning for Game 4 at Utah, scoring 30, 33 and 24 points over the final three contests, recording two double-doubles and missing a third by one rebound.

"The first game, I was a little janky," he said of his return to action. "But I felt better (in Game 5). I think the first couple of minutes I was tired, but then I was OK. I think the run in the third (quarter), I was a little tired, too, but just getting my air back."

The Mavericks clinched the series win with a 98-96 victory at Utah on Thursday, giving Doncic and his teammates three days of rest leading into the Phoenix series.

Booker suffered his injury -- a hamstring strain -- in Game 2 against the Pelicans, then sat out until Thursday's 115-109 clincher at New Orleans. He played 32 minutes in that game, contributing 13 points to the win.

Suns coach Monty Williams eased Booker back into the action by bringing him off the bench in the second half Thursday, something he doesn't plan on doing again moving forward.

"I thought we were gonna have a fistfight over there (with) the look he gave me," Williams said of breaking the news to Booker coming out of the break. "We had already talked about it, but we had to stick to the plan because it was going to be easier to finish (the game) with him and keep his minutes relatively lower."

Williams said he became convinced of Booker's good health while focused on him during the second half.

"We wanted to keep (his minutes) at about 24," the coach said, "but he didn't look like he was dragging (his leg) or laboring at all. And he told me, he said, 'Coach, I feel fine, it's strong, I have no issues.' So I left him out there."

The Suns swept the season series 3-0 from the Mavericks, with two wins coming by eight points and the third by seven. Two of the games were in Phoenix, a November back-to-back that Doncic missed with a sprained left knee and ankle.

Both Booker and Doncic scored 28 points in the lone meeting in Dallas in January, a game won 109-101 by the Suns.

All three meetings were held before the Mavericks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards for Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie averaged 15.3 points in the Utah series.

The Suns are a consensus 5.5-point favorite ahead of Game 1. The line opened at 5.5 at BetMGM and has held steady with Phoenix backed by 59 percent of the spread bets and 65 percent of the handle.

The same line at DraftKings has seen the Suns drawing just 47 percent of the bets but 83 percent of the handle. And the 215.0-point Over/Under market at the sportsbook has seen the Over backed by 73 percent of the handle.

Phoenix is also the heavy favorite to win the series at DraftKings, where they have drawn 76 percent of the bets and 84 percent of the handle.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans

NBA fines Suns $25K over injury-reporting of Devin Booker

April 30, 2022, 9:46 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns were fined $25,000 by the NBA Saturday after violating the league's injury-reporting guidelines over Devin Booker's status ahead of Game 6 against New Orleans on Thursday.

The league ruled that Phoenix did not reveal Booker's playing status "in an accurate and timely manner" before he returned to action in the Suns' first-round series clinching win over the Pelicans.

Booker, who missed the series' previous three games after suffering a Grade 1 hamstring strain in Game 2, had been upgraded to questionable earlier in the day Thursday. After testing the leg during pregame warmups, the All-Star guard started and played 32 minutes, scoring 13 points in the 115-109 Phoenix victory.

The 25-year-old Booker averaged 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the regular season in making his third straight All-Star Game appearance.

The Suns begin their second-round series at home Monday in Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks

Sportsbooks split on whether Jazz will force Game 7

April 28, 2022, 10:28 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are on the brink of elimination but at least they'll have their star player in Game 6 on Thursday night at Salt Lake City.

Despite having their star player performing at his peak again after missing a few games in this first-round series, the Dallas Mavericks know that having a 3-2 lead doesn't guarantee they will advance.

Last year's postseason disaster offers a reminder. In the 2021 first round, the Mavericks were up 3-2 against the Los Angeles Clippers before losing Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road.

"I don't even remember that. I don't even remember last year," Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith joked. "Nah, but we put ourselves in a great spot. We've just got to handle our business in Utah."

Dallas did that in Game 3, winning 126-118 at Utah to regain home-court advantage after losing Game 1 at home 99-93. Things are vastly different a week later.

The Jazz have held steady as 1.5-point favorites in Game 6 at BetMGM, but they are 1.0-point underdogs at DraftKings and PointsBet.

It speaks to the unpredictability of this competitive series.

Dallas had been backed by 74 percent of the spread handle at BetMGM hours before tipoff. The Mavericks have also been the focus of one-sided spread action at DraftKings (81 percent of the handle) and PointsBet (81 percent), where Dallas opened as 2.5-point favorites in Game 6.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic has been dominant since returning from a calf injury that sidelined him for the first three games.

Meanwhile, Utah's most explosive scorer, Donovan Mitchell, declared himself ready to play Thursday night amid a leg injury.

"I'm good to go," Mitchell said Wednesday. "I'll be ready."

This series has been so unpredictable, with Jalen Brunson suddenly playing like an All-Star, the usually sharpshooting Jazz misfiring from deep at historic levels and elite players from each team with injuries.

Mitchell limped off the court and grabbed at his hamstring with 4:55 to play Monday. An ensuing MRI was negative, and Mitchell was optimistic he'll play through his bilateral quadriceps contusions.

Mitchell also believes the Jazz will return to form after only hitting 3 of 30 from 3-point range in the 102-77 Game 5 blowout loss.

Not only was that the worst 3-point field-goal percentage in Jazz history (minimum 20 attempts), it was the least-accurate performance in NBA postseason history (minimum 25 attempts), according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"I don't think we've ever shot this poorly as a group," Mitchell said. "So, we'll bounce back and go from there."

The way Dallas has played for most of this series will require a very large bounce-back by Utah.

Doncic pushed the Mavericks into the series lead with 33 points and 13 rebounds in Game 5 after totaling 30 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the 100-99 Game 4 loss at Utah.

"The first game, I was a little janky," Doncic said. "But I felt better (Monday). I think the first couple of minutes I was tired, but then I was OK. I think the run in the third I was a little tired, too, but just getting my air back."

Dallas is looking to get past the first round for the first time since winning the NBA championship in 2011. That Clippers series last year was the first time in nine occasions that the Mavs blew a 3-2 lead.

Doncic said the Mavericks just need to play like they did Monday.

"I think our defense was amazing, the energy was high and we played hard," he said. "That's the way we've got to play, and that's how we win the next game."

If not, Game 7 will take place Saturday at Dallas.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns

Suns road favorites to eliminate Pelicans in Game 6

April 28, 2022, 10:18 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The top-seeded Phoenix Suns have had a fight on their hands in their Western Conference first-round series.

Leading scorer Devin Booker has not played since coming away with a hamstring strain in the third quarter of Game 2 and they have lost twice in the series to the eighth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans. However, Booker was upgraded to questionable on Thursday and is expected to play.

The Suns can advance to the conference semifinals if they beat the Pelicans in Game 6 on Thursday night at New Orleans. They are consensus 2.5-point favorites in Game 6. That includes at BetMGM, where they have been backed by 72 percent of the spread handle, as well as at DraftKings (83 percent).

Phoenix opened as a 2.5-point favorite at PointsBet but the line shifted to 2.0 with the Pelicans drawing 61 percent of the spread handle hours before tip-off.

Phoenix moved to the brink of advancing with a 112-97 home victory in Game 5 on Thursday night. Mikal Bridges scored a career playoff-high 31 points, played 47 minutes and helped hold Pelicans leading scorer CJ McCollum to 7-of-22 shooting.

"I'm ready to play tomorrow, man," Bridges said. "I'm teed up. I'm energized."

Bridges, who hasn't missed a game in his four-year NBA career, gave the Suns offense a lift in the absence of Booker by making 12 of 17 shots.

Booker was not expected to play in Game 6. However, ESPN reported Wednesday that it's possible Booker could return, given how well his hamstring is progressing.

"He doesn't miss games, he guards the best players every night and then he has 31 (points)," teammate Chris Paul said.

Paul bounced back from Game 4, when he tied his career playoff low with four points, to score 22 in Game 5 with 11 assists. Bridges took some pressure off Paul by adding five rebounds, a career-high four blocks and two steals.

"You can't clone him, but you wish you could," Suns coach Monty Williams said of Bridges. "He's just one of those rare basketball players that can play that way on defense, but also give you the point production that he gave tonight."

The Suns built a 12-point lead in the first quarter, led by as many as 17 in the second quarter and never led by fewer than seven points in the second half.

"They came out ready and we didn't," said Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds, after having 26 and 15 in Game 4 at home.

Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 22 points but crashed to the floor late in the game and moments later grabbed his right arm while losing control of the basketball. New Orleans made just one field goal in the final five minutes and none in the final three.

Pelicans coach Willie Green said Ingram would be evaluated when the team got back to New Orleans.

"We made some timely mistakes No. 1, starting with the turnovers," Green added. "(We had) 15 turnovers for 23 points. That fuels their team, that fuels their transition opportunities. That's an area where we know we have to be better. If we do, it's a totally different game for us."

McCollum missed seven of the eight 3-point shots he took as the Pelicans finished 5 of 25 (20 percent) from beyond the arc.

"I thought (the Suns) did a good job of coming out, playing desperate," Green said. "They played hard, they competed. They kind of knocked us on our heels early.

"Give them credit. They did what they needed to do on their home floor. We're heading back to New Orleans, and we'll be ready to play."

The Pelicans, who won elimination games against the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in tournament, will try to force a Game 7 on Saturday night at Phoenix.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans

Devin Booker upgraded, expected to play in G6

April 28, 2022, 10:06 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has been upgraded to questionable and is expected to play in Thursday night's Game 6 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Booker will test his strained right hamstring during pregame warmups and will play, if all goes well, per ESPN.

The Suns lead the Western Conference first-round series 3-2 and could close it out in New Orleans.

Booker suffered a Grade 1 strain to the hamstring in Game 2 of the series, a 125-114 loss to the Pelicans on April 19. He scored 31 points -- all in the first half -- before leaving the game with 4:45 left in the third period.

The 25-year-old Booker averaged 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the regular season. The Suns were 8-6 without him in the lineup.

Booker has a history of hamstring issues. He missed seven games this season because of a left hamstring strain.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans

Report: Devin Booker (hamstring) could be back for G6

April 27, 2022, 11:26 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is progressing from his hamstring injury and it's possible he could return for Thursday night's Game 6 against the New Orleans Pelicans, ESPN reported Wednesday.

The Suns lead the Western Conference first-round series 3-2 and could close it out in New Orleans.

Booker is expected to be listed as out for the game, initially.

Booker suffered a Grade 1 strain to his right hamstring in Game 2 of the series, with ESPN reporting he could be out 2-3 weeks.

Booker suffered the injury in the third quarter of the Suns' 125-114 loss to the Pelicans on April 19. He scored 31 points before leaving the game with 4:45 left in the period.

The 25-year-old Booker averaged 26.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the regular season. The Suns were 8-6 without him in the lineup.

Booker has a history of hamstring issues. He missed seven games this season because of a left hamstring strain.

--Field Level Media