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Game 6 Recap: Suns miss chance to end series, setting up game 7

Phoenix will host game 7 on Sunday in a win-or-go home setting

Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Phoenix Suns lost to the Dallas Mavericks, 113-86. It looked a lot like game 4 in Dallas when Phoenix struggled to string together good possessions on either end.

Suns only had three score in double figures: Ayton (21), Booker (19) and Paul (13). Doncic (33), Bullock (19), Brunson (18), and Dinwiddie (15) led the attack for the Mavs.

First half:

Suns started this game getting into a good flow offensively. Dallas was playing pretty good defense, but Phoenix was still able to get some to go. While the Mavs’ flow didn’t look as aesthetically pleasing, they also got their share of tough buckets to go early.

Dallas started to get the crowd involved with a Doncic steal and three within a minute of each other, but Ayton had responses, including a hook and a trip to the free throw line. Booker helped with a floater to bring the game back within 1 with three left in the quarter.

Over the rest of the quarter, Dallas had chances to blow the game wide open, but missed threes and silly fouls slowed their roll. The game 5 adjustment of Shamet and Biyombo in the rotation over Payne and McGee respectively was back in game 6.

Mavs led 28-25 after one, with Doncic (11) and Booker (8) leading each team in scoring.

It was clear in the second quarter that Bertans was a bigger part of Phoenix’s gameplan than he’s been in the series so far on both ends. Defensively, they were more attentive to his off-ball actions and did a better job of making it hard for him to get off threes. Offensively, Paul made a concerted effort to involve Bertans in their own actions, where he’s particularly exploitable.

Even as Brunson got going in the second (10 points by the 8:00 mark), the Suns did a great job playing steady on both ends; didn’t have defensive collapses and looked measured in their offensive approach.

Unfortunately, the Suns’ turnover problem reared its ugly head toward the back end of the first half, the Mavs were able to open up a double-digit lead. By the 3:00 mark, Booker, Paul, and Crowder all had two turnovers each.

Mavs led 60-45 at the end of the half led by Doncic (18), Bullock (13), and Brunson (10). Eight different Suns scored in the half, but only Ayton (10) reached double figures.

  • Similar to game 4, the Mavs (10-24) made three more threes than the Suns (3-7) even attempted
  • Both teams had 9 assists in the half (as many as Dallas had in all of game 5), but Phoenix turned it over 8 times to Dallas’s 2.

Suns dug themselves into a hole, but it’s nothing beyond what this team has already overcome.

Second half:

Mavericks came out guns blazing in the second half, rushing their way to a 20-plus point lead in the third. They took advantage of stagnancy by Phoenix offensively, leading to even more turnovers, as well as porous Suns defense in the paint, leading to multiple dunks by Doncic.

The first fireworks for the Suns in the half came when Ayton absolutely destroyed Doncic on an and-one dunk, but even that was slowed down by a technical called on Ayton for staring Doncic down for a total of three seconds after the dunk.

After three, Dallas led 94-72. The only other firework for Phoenix came when Booker got a highlight block in transition, though it was following a turnover that was mostly his fault. Ayton (21) and Booker (13) were the only Suns in double figures. CP3 with just 7 points had more turnovers (4) than assists (3) by this point.

Despite the tall task that was in front of the Suns, they still had opportunities to shift momentum in their favor during the early parts of the fourth quarter. Continued turnovers and lazy defense ensured that wouldn’t happen, despite Booker trying as hard as he could to go supernova.

A 17-point game with 7:50 remaining stood as a chance for the Suns to make some headway, but Ayton choked away a solid post opportunity, traveling and giving up the ball. Bullock iced the game with a three on the following possession, and Crowder left no doubt with an illegal screen seconds later.

Closest the game got was 16 points before Suns starters were pulled with about four minutes left, but not before Paul appeared to hurt his right hand in his final seconds of the game.

It never got as ugly as the Warriors’ 39-point loss on Wednesday to a Grizzlies team that was missing Morant, but it still left one of the worst tastes of any Suns loss this season.

Up next:

It all comes down to Sunday for these two teams hoping to extend their seasons. It will be in a hopefully rowdy Footprint Center. It’s the first game 7 in the Monty Williams era and the first of Booker’s still young career.