The two series were more similar than you might think through five games, but with one big huge mammoth difference.
- Game 1: Suns and Warriors both win Game 1 easily at home to take a 1-0 lead. Suns by 11, but led by nearly 30 at the beginning of the fourth quarter; Warriors by 25.
- Game 2: Suns and Warriors both win Game 2 easily at home to take commanding 2-0 series lead. Suns by 20; Warriors by 9.
- Game 4: Mavericks win both Game 4s easily, winning each by 10 points after leading by a wide margin the whole game.
- Game 5: Suns and Warriors both win Game 5 easily at home. Suns won by 30, while the Warriors won by 10.
That’s four of the first five games going almost exactly the same for both the Suns and the Warriors in their series against the Mavericks in the 2022 Playoffs, with the Suns/Warriors winning three of the four.
Of course, the massive, monumental difference was that middle game, Game 3, which changed the tenor of the ENTIRE series despite what happened in the next two.
By beating the Suns in Game 3 of the second round, the Mavericks were still alive after five games despite a 30-point Game 5 blowout loss in Phoenix. They used their Game 6 home crowd to begin a massive, unexpected comeback to win the final two games of the series and advance in the playoffs.
By losing to the Warriors in Game 3 of the Conference Finals, the Mavericks were dead and buried after Game 5 with a 4-1 series loss. No comebacks. No more home games to steal the energy back.
I know, I know, I know. Lots and lots of things were actually different-looking on the court. The Warriors defended Luka better. The Mavericks role players made fewer big-cajone shots. But the outcomes were the same in four of the first five games.
Game 3 was the difference maker. If the Suns had not laid an egg in Game 3, they probably would have closed out the Mavericks in much the same way the Warriors did.
These Suns have always had problems with that Game 3 roadie. They have had home court advantage in every playoff series since returning to the postseason last year. In six series, they are:
- 6-0 in Game 1s (home)
- 4-2 in Game 2s (home)
- 2-4 in Game 3s (road)
- 3-3 in Game 4s (road)
- 3-2 in Game 5s (home)
- 3-2 in Game 6s (road) — those three wins were close-out wins on road
- 0-1 in Game 7s (home) — ugh
They just can’t win that very difficult Game 3 on the road. Their only game 3 road wins in the playoffs were against Denver in round two a year ago to go up 3-0, and then the Pelicans in the first round this year to go up 2-1. In all the other four series, they lost Game 3 and usually lost it by a wide margin.
You can say that’s to be expected, to lose a Game 3 to the underdog team that desperately needs the win to stay alive in the series. Yet you can see what winning Game 3 does to a whole series: the favorite winning in five games or fewer vs. the underdog dragging it out to 6 or 7 games and who the hell knows what can happen then.
Here’s today’s poll question...
Seeing the Mavs go down 4-1 to Warriors, do you feel better or worse about the Suns losing to them?
This poll is closed
Much, much worse. Why did you even ask me this question???