It will be the Dallas Mavericks traveling to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night in a do-or-die Game 7 matchup. Both teams are undefeated at home in the series and Dallas will need to break the trend to advance to the Western Conference finals. The opening tip is scheduled for 8pm EST.
Finally at Home on the Road?The Dallas Mavericks held serve again on Thursday night with a 113-86 win over Phoenix in Game 6 to force a 7th and deciding game. Luka Doncic scored 33 points, had 11 rebounds and grabbed 8 assists to once again lead the Mavs in all three categories in the blowout win. Doncic also had 4 steals in the game as Dallas held the high-scoring Suns under 100 points for the second time in three games at home. Once again it was the Dallas defense that told the story as the Mavs held Phoenix to just 40% shooting on the night. Doncic was supported by 19 points from Reggie Bullock and 18 points from Jaylen Brunson. Dallas drilled 16 3pt field goals on the night led by Bullock's 5-for-11 and Spencer Dinwiddie's 5-for-7. As they head into game 7, Dallas head coach Jason Kidd knows that his star player, Doncic, will be ready.
"I don't know if he was playing as if he was trying to do something different," Kidd said. "I think he enjoys the moment. You guys have seen 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."
Despite this being a series heading into a 7th and deciding game, the series has been one-sided for the home team in each game. Dallas is being outscored by an average of 19 points per game on the road, scoring 101 points per game in Phoenix. At home, however, the Mavericks are outscoring Phoenix by an average of 15.3 points per game and are averaging 109 points per game at home. The key has been the defense in Dallas, culminating in holding Phoenix to 40% shooting in game 6. The Mavericks will need Doncic to continue his play but will also need their defense to come with them in front of a hostile crowd in Phoenix.
Suns on the BrinkThe defending Western Conference Champions and the team with the NBA's best record, the Phoenix Suns, are now on the brink of elimination in a crucial game 7 at home on Sunday. Phoenix could not carry the good vibes with them from a resounding Game 5 win at home into Dallas, losing by 27 points. This will now be the first game 7 under head coach Monte Williams for the Suns as they try to advance back into the conference finals. On Thursday, the Suns shot just 40% from the field, turned the ball over 22 times and scored their least amount of points all season.
"I don't have enough time to talk about everything that's eating at me," coach Monty Williams said. "I didn't think we understood the desperation they were going to play with. Couple that with the turnovers that we had tonight, it's a recipe for what we just got."
The Suns' star-studded backcourt will be looking for redemption after combining for just 27 points and committing a combined 13 turnovers in a dismal performance for Chris Paul and Devin Booker. This will be Booker's first-ever game 7 on Sunday.
“Greatest two words in sports,” Booker said. “I’m excited to feel the energy. I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s a great opportunity.”
The Jekyll & Hyde nature of the Suns' play this postseason has to be concerning but there isn't any time for the Suns to dissect it heading into game 7. The Suns will need 37-year-old Paul to find his A-game once again after having a mediocre series up to this point. Paul is averaging just 14 points per game and 6 assists in the series, both off of his regular-season numbers of nearly 15 points per game and over 10 assists. More concerning is the number of turnovers in the series. After averaging just over 2 turnovers per game during the regular season, Paul is turning the ball over nearly 4 times per game in the series. In addition, he has scored in single digits in two of the last three games. While Paul is no longer the premier scorer he was earlier in his career, he is still capable of big games as evidenced by his 28 points in game 2. Ultimately, game 7 will likely come down to which Chris Paul shows up.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
In a series devoid of close games, this final game will come down to the wire. Game 7s are typically tight because both teams have been effectively scouting each other for nearly two weeks. The Suns will benefit from the extra days' rest between games, particularly Paul. However, Doncic will be able to keep this game tight. The 23-year-old is one of the Top-5 players in the NBA and can instill his will in a do-or-die game like this one. I fully expect this to be a one-possession game in the final minutes. Paul will not have consecutive games of 5 or more turnovers and will pick his spots when to score. Despite his single-digit scoring games in multiple games, Paul is still shooting 56% from the field against Dallas. He will keep it tight even as Dallas employs their small forwards to harass him over the floor. The winner of this game is truly a toss-up and may come down to final possession. Dallas will utilize pressure defense and control the tempo with Doncic while Phoenix will pound the ball inside to Deandre Ayton and take advantage of mismatches. Ultimately, in a series full of blowouts, six points is too much to lay in a deciding game.
Take the points and go with Dallas.
Full-Game Total Pick
In a tightly contested game 7, I expect the defense to rule the day and the scoring to be more difficult to come by. Dallas will carry the defense that has stifled the Suns into game 7 while the Suns will try and force anyone other than Doncic to beat them. Dallas is averaging 103 points per game in Phoenix and the Suns averaged just under 94 points on the road. While this game is in Phoenix, I expect both teams to play that level of defense in this final game. First team to 100 will win this barnburner.
Take the under, 209.5