Phoenix Suns Must Implement Changes For Game 7 Vs. Dallas
The Phoenix Suns failed to close their second-round series against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, extending the series to a final game seven to be played on Sunday.
It’s not exactly the path fans expected from the Suns, given their league-leading 64 regular-season wins and the level of dominance they’ve shown over the course of the season.
The Mavericks, who have all sorts of questions on the roster, have proven to be a badass, despite having only one main driving force in the form of Luka Dončić. As such, good advice comes at a steep price these days, especially since 7 games are mostly chaotic and can go either way. So let’s look at some possible adjustments the Suns could make for Sunday.
More than three points
Yes, yes, it sounds very simple, and too often in recent history has the idea of answering every team’s prayer. Taking more than three points isn’t exactly rocket science, and it won’t be enough to gain a significant advantage. But, it’s a start.
The Mavericks have made 78 more three-pointers than the Suns in this series and have made 26 more shots from range. This difference is extremely remarkable, especially in terms of taking away extra points. Or rather, not to.
Generally speaking, teams can live with fewer three-point shots if they make up for it in other categories, like at the free throw line, or simply by being more effective in other areas of the field. The problem here being that the Suns are also behind the line. In six games, they attempted 109 free throws to Dallas’ 144. The game-to-game disparity, on average, isn’t that great (5.8 free throw attempts in favor of Dallas), but in a best-of-seven series, it adds up quickly.
Phoenix has an efficiency advantage. They hit almost 50% of the field for the series – 49.2% to be exact – and sport a TS of 59.4%, which is frankly elite offensive efficiency. Much of that, however, comes from the production of Jae Crowder, who rocks 68.1% TS this series, and that could be cause for concern given how historically inconsistent it has been from series to series. the other.
In the first round against the New Orleans Pelicans, Crowder hit just 33.3 percent from the field, including an unthinkable 11.5 percent from three points. His wobbly production and all-around role can easily swing the outcome of a game, and Phoenix needs to understand that risk going into Sunday’s final game of the series.
It should be on the Suns to allow Mikal Bridges, one of their best shooters, to launch with more freedom from the outside. The 6’7 winger takes just 2.5 attempts in the playoffs, which seems out of place given his 7’1 wingspan and high exit point. If nothing else, an argument could be made that Bridges should turn those 2.5 night attempts from the outside into what he tries per quarter. The Suns not only need the extra shot, but the extra score from one of their best two-way players.
Go under the screen on Dončić
As dangerous as Dončić is offensively, and however many three-pointers he takes (nine per game), he remains an unfinished product as a knockdown three-point shooter who is currently hitting just 29.6% from deep. That improvement could come in the next few years, but until it does, the Suns should go underscreen on every ball screen, inviting Dončić to take long pulls from outside the long line.
Even if Dončić hits a good chunk of it, it knocks him out of the paint where he does massive damage. It means fewer draws on Phoenix big men, which should mean fewer free throws, and it offers little in terms of forcing the defense to crumble, which usually allows the Slovenian superstar to find shooters. open.
While going under the basket doesn’t always work, as Dončić is the king of forced switches and smaller opponents, it’s a step in the right direction to keep him clear of the basket, allowing Suns defenders to stay (mostly) at home on Dallas. shooters.
It would also give the Suns a boost if All-Star Devin Booker were to have one of his most explosive games, while giving Dončić some work to do on the other side. Just as Dončić chases mismatches, Booker can too, and the Suns should make it a priority so he gets there often.
While the Suns are still favored, facing a team led by arguably a Top 5 player is no easy task, especially one who manipulates defenses to the degree that Dončić does. For Phoenix, it’s about changing the game plan and leaning into higher value shots. While it might be risky, it could save the Suns from elimination and lead them to a return to the Western Conference Finals.