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Final Score: Suns take Game 1 vs. Mavericks, 121-114

Luka Doncic scored 45 big points, but Suns held big lead all game long. The game was not as close as the final scores.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns came out smoking hot, kept shooting at a 60% clip for 3.5 quarters and kept a huge lead all game over the Dallas Mavericks. After taking a 21-point lead with about 8 minutes left in the game, the Suns coasted to a 121-114 victory by riding out the fourth quarter despite some cold shooting.

Luka Doncic had a huge stat line (45/11/8), and the Mavericks kept playing hard the whole game. But no one else really stepped up for the Mavs around Luka.

This happened, putting the Suns up by 21 in the 4th.

Still, the Mavericks did not give up and made the game a bit closer as the Suns starters had lost all that mojo. They came back in with 8 minutes left and a 16-point lead, but allowed the Mavericks to cut the lead from 16 to 6. In the final seconds, they got it down to 5.

Still, no one on the court thought the Mavericks were winning this game. Even the Mavericks.

Luka Doncic played 45 of the 48 minutes and posted a stat line of 45/12/8.

Devin Booker had 23/9/8. Chris Paul had 19/5/3. Deandre Ayton had 25/8. Six Suns scored in double figures, and Cam Payne just missed with 9.

Suns win, 121-114.

Game Flow

Wow, Suns go up 6-0 on a perfect Chris Paul middy, a steal (Bridges) and finish in transition (Bridges, from Book), then a stop and finish in transition (Book). Then an offensive foul on the Mavs, followed by another steal (Paul). The Mavs have taken one shot in five possessions. Suns up 6-0.

Crowder’s three puts them up 9-0 before Doncic nails a deep three to finally get the Mavs on the board. Ayton scored on an and-one roll to the basket and it’s 12-4 Suns.

The Suns kept pouring it on, forcing a fourth Dallas turnover and using multiple efforts to get the ball to go down (dare I say, Pelicans style?). Suns up 18-6, and they have 14 shots (0 turnovers) to the Mavs 8 shots (3 turnovers that should be 4).

The Mavs then turned to Maxi Kleber at center so they could spread the floor with their three playmakers and try to break down the Suns the way they broke the Jazz. It didn’t work. Dinwiddie iso’d on Ayton, had to pass off to Doncic, who had to pass off Brunson, who had it knocked off him by Booker. On the next possession, Brunson committed an offensive foul trying to drive on Booker. Suns up 22-7 before the subs started coming in.

Finally, on their third small-ball possession, the Mavs got a corner three from Kleber on a Doncic drive. And then got free throws on a Doncic drive. This is going to be the main way they beat they succeed against the Suns.

When Ayton comes out for JaVale, I get a bit worried. They can ‘Rudy’ McGee and they immediately do it with Kleber, now 2-2 on threes. Doncic stayed in to settle the Mavs — and have some non-Bridges/Ayton success — and the Mavs pulled back to 31-21 on a third Kleber three.

At the end of one, the stars did their thing — Luka with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and Booker with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. A secondary guy for each team was good too — Kleber 3/3 on threes for 9 points, Ayton 4/6 shooting for 9 points. The difference was everyone else. The Suns had 6 other players score a bucket, while the Mavs only had one other player score.

Suns up 35-25 after one. Four players went all 12 minutes that quarter: Doncic and Finney-Smith for the Mavs, Booker and Bridges for the Suns.

The Suns started the second quarter with Jae Crowder as the only starter out there, while the Mavs had their bench in as well with Brunson and Bullock. Once again, JaVale McGee got killed on a defensive rotation leaving Maxi Kleber wide open for a three, and he drained it. 4-4 now.

Dallas’ goal in this game is clearly to get side open back side threes and they’re getting them, but nothing else is quite working and the Suns offense is totally humming. The lead grew to 47-34 with the Suns shooting 60% from the field (18-30), 57% on threes (5-9).

Not really sure what’s going on, but the Suns did not bring Devin Booker back till the 6 minute mark and that was before they brought Paul back. They played Cameron Payne 11 straight minutes. By then, the Mavericks had used 9-17 three-point shooting to pull back to 51-47.

Crazy how open these Mavs shooters are on the three point line on the back side of the Mavericks attack. Luka grabs so much attention, the Suns defense is sinking too low to contest.

Paul and Booker straightened out the Suns a bit, pulling back to a 10-point lead, but Doncic was in total attack mode at this point. He and Kleber now have 38 of the Mavericks 55. points.

A Chris Paul middy followed by a three got the Suns lead back to 13, at 65-52 with 1:41 left in the half. Paul is now a +24 in this game.

The Suns lead 69-56 at halftime. Luka Doncic dominated the Mavericks offense every possession, and has 26 points on 18 shots, but only 2-8 on threes and 4 assists. Monty Williams had said you can’t stop Luka but you can hope to limit 1-2 of those 3 things: Paint points, threes and assists. If not for Kleber’s 5/6 three point shooting, the Mavericks would be down a ton more points.

The second half started like the second quarter went, with the Mavericks getting threes and Luka drives on the regular to keep it close.

It looks to me, as a NON-expert on this stuff, that the Suns plan is a try to defend Luka with one guy and only a little bit of help. But the back side defenders aren’t trusting it enough, and they’re sinking into the paint to try to help but ending up in no-mans land — not close enough to stop Luka without reaching in (foul) but too far away from the three-point shooter to contest. I think they just need to trust the plan more. I’ll ask Monty post-game.

The Suns gave up the 4th fewest corner three point attempts in the league this year (7.4) while the Mavericks were 2nd in corner three attempts (11.4) after the KP trade.

Still, the Suns offense was humming on SO many cylinders, their defensive rotation issues didn’t matter as much.

Suns lead 96-79 after three quarters. Doncic has 32 points on 25 shots but only 6 assists. He’s played 32 of the 36 minutes. Booker has 19/8/7 in 31 minutes. Chris Paul has only played 21 minutes in this one (12/4/3). The Cams have shot well in this one, with 22 points on 14 shots combined.

Well then, OMG...

Game over, right?

Suns lead got down to 13 at one point, but no one in the building, including the Mavs, thought they’d get back into it.

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