After an embarrassing loss in a closeout game opportunity for the Phoenix Suns at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix now find themselves in a situation in which it’s win or go home. Game 7 is on the horizon. Anything can happen.
This is one of the strangest playoff series I’ve ever seen. Sure, there have been several Game 7s in NBA history. However, I can’t recall a situation when every victory was gained by the home team, and with such a bizarre point differential. The consistency can only be defined as “inconsistent”.
The play of the Phoenix Suns in this series has created a new nickname for the team. They are the “Schizophrenic Suns”. They are very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One night they look like world beaters. Their defense is locked in and their offense is humming. The next night they look like they are running offense sets that equate to losses at the YMCA.
Rough night for the best backcourt in the NBA.— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 13, 2022
CP: 4 baskets, 5 turnovers
Book: 6 baskets, 8 turnovers pic.twitter.com/tSI37V3qnu
“I didn’t think we understood the desperation they were going to play with,” Monty Williams observed after the game. “In a desperate situation, they came out right out the gate with force and grit and sped us up. We were about as unorganized on offense tonight as we’ve ever been.”
The Suns’ Game 6 performance was yet another farce, losing by 27 points, 113-86. The squad was coming off a thrashing of the Mavericks in Game 5 and was in position to go to the Western Conference Finals. And while you anticipated Dallas to play with the ferocity of a wounded animal in a closeout game, you didn’t expect the Phoenix Suns to concede yet again.
The lack of focus and energy we have seen from the Suns in this playoffs is laughable. This is a team that won 64 games and 78 percent of their games in the regular season. Yet in the postseason they are now 7-5 (58 percent). If you’re looking for championship level basketball, this ain’t it.
When playing at home, the Suns have been magnificent in this series. They won Game 1, 2, and 5 by an average margin of 19 points. Their defense plays with spirit, as they’ve held the Mavericks to 101 points per game at the friendly confines of the Footprint Center.
They’re better at protecting the ball, committing 37 turnovers in home games. The 12.3 turnovers per home game mirrors their season average of 12.9 turnovers, which placed them seventh in the NBA.
They’re shooting 54.3 percent from the field at home, including 42.4 percent from beyond the arc. The team has an offensive rating of 127.2 and a defensive rating of 105.6. Their assist percentage is 60.1%.
Defensively, they’re locked in. At home, the Suns are holding the Mavs to 43.8 percent shooting and 36.6 percent from deep. They are active, forcing 14.7 turnovers and pressuring Dallas into mistakes. They are the team we watched all season long.
Put this team on a flight, however, and Mr. Hyde comes out to play. They’ve lost each game by an average of 15.3 points. They’re allowing the Mavericks to score 109 points per game while putting up only 92.6 points themselves. The offense is discombobulated. The defense is missing assignments. The team is in disarray and their leadership is non-existent.
The team has turned the ball over 56 times for an average of 18.7 in three games at American Airlines Center. Phoenix has an offensive rating of 101.8 and a defensive rating of 117.2 while in Dallas.
While they aren’t allowing Dallas to shoot significantly better – the Mavs shoot 44.8 percent from the field – they are allowing themselves to get destroyed by the three-ball. The Mavericks are making 40.2 percent of their three-pointers at home, and the Suns are allowing them to make 16.3 three’s a game. While in Phoenix, that number is 13.7. +9 per-game from deep.
Who is this team?
Chris Paul appears to be injured. His play since game two has been lackluster to say the least. He is not facilitating the offense, rather, he is throwing the ball away and not even seeing the floor. I can’t tell you how many times the Mavericks have intercepted the ball on the weak side when Paul throws a cross-court pass. His awareness level is terrible.
Over Chris Paul's last four games he's averaging 9.3 points, 6.3 assists and 4.5 turnovers. Mavericks are doing a great job defending him with DFS, Bullock, Ntilikina, etc. But I wonder if it's much more than that considering this drop off. How soon do we get a report he's hurt?— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 13, 2022
The energy that CP3 puts out, at least from a body language standpoint, is non-motivational. His shoulders? Slumped. The expression on his face? Melancholy. We haven’t seen the fire from Chris Paul that we are used to seeing. And, while on the road, his team is following suit.
Of course the same could be said of the Mavericks. They are a different team when they arrive in Phoenix. But ask any Mavericks fan, and they’ll tell you that winning one series in this postseason was the primary goal and a step in the right direction of their franchise. Anything on top of that is simply playing with house money.
It is a different story for the Suns. It’s championship or bust. No one picked Dallas in this series.
Every ESPN NBA writer in this survey picked the Suns over the Mavs. pic.twitter.com/i9FPPSDVNf— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) May 1, 2022
Thankfully for the Suns, Game 7 is at home.
Monty Williams has referenced numerous times that he values the regular season, for your performance during it dictates home court advantage in the postseason. In theory, and based on the way that the series is gone, the Suns should win Game 7 at home. But the sheer fact that this team has put themselves in a situation in which they have to face Luka Doncic, who is the best player in the series, in a Game 7 is troublesome. If he goes nuclear, the season could be over for Phoenix.
Perhaps this team needs therapy, exercising their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde demons. Their schizophrenic ways need to be treated if they advance to the Western Conference Finals. Heck, as a fan, I might need therapy. The emotional swings of this series and the performances by this team has me in dire need of medication.