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Game 4 Preview: Can the Suns bounce back in Dallas?

Phoenix will need to dig deep and fight even harder to take Game 4, as the Mavericks aim to even the series.

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks, Conference Semi-Finals, 2022 NBA Playoffs

When: 12:30 p.m. AZ Time

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

Watch: ABC

Listen: 98.7 FM

Betting Line: Suns are a 1.5 point favorite in this one.


After a frustrating Game 3 loss, Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns take on the Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, who are hoping to show Friday’s game was not just a flash in the pan.

The Mavericks did well to defend their homecourt and to keep their hopes of advancing alive, with a standup performance from Dončić’s backcourt partner, Jalen Brunson. The fourth-year guard out of Villanova posted his best game of the series with 28 points and 5 assists on 10-21 from the field, while Dončić himself nearly had a triple-double, posting 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists.

The Suns will be hoping for a better performance from their backcourt duo in today’s matchup. The two combined for 12 of the team’s 17 turnovers and while neither shot poorly from the field, the inability to create a single 20+ point scorer on the night falls on the shoulders of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. If neither can cross the mark themselves, they must create for others if Phoenix has any hope of taking a 3-1 series lead.


Probable Starters

Suns

  • PG - Chris Paul
  • SG - Devin Booker
  • SF - Mikal Bridges
  • PF - Jae Crowder
  • C - Deandre Ayton

Injury Report: Torrey Craig (Questionable; right elbow contusion), Dario Šarić (Out; right knee rehab)

Mavericks

  • PG - Luka Dončić
  • SG - Jalen Brunson
  • SF - Reggie Bullock
  • PF - Dorian Finney-Smith
  • C - Dwight Powell

Injury Report: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Out; left foot rehab)

What to Watch for

Phoenix cannot afford to be nearly as sloppy as they were in Game 3. The Mavericks put in a very good defensive performance on Friday, but it was also their worst offensive performance of the series. If the Mavericks’ offense can click as it had been in Phoenix, the Suns will have their hands full on both ends of the court.

While Phoenix would love a repeat of Game 2’s picture-perfect execution on offense (64.5% from the field and 52% from three as a team), the more pressing concern for the Suns is the lack of consistent bench production.

Suns’ wing Cameron Johnson, who finished 3rd in this season’s vote for the Sixth Man of the Year award, failed to register double-digit points in Games 2 and 3.

Suns’ backup guard Cameron Payne has also struggled throughout this year’s playoffs, crossing the double-digit point mark only once in the Suns’ nine playoff games.


Prediction

With so little rest for both teams, I don’t see the defenses being as tight as they were in Game 3, but I also don’t see Game 4 returning to the enthralling level of pace and efficiency that we saw in Games 1 and 2. Booker and Ayton are my bets to score 25+ points each for Phoenix, while I expect another monster, 35+ point game from Dončić to go in vain.

Suns beat the Mavericks, 104-91.

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