The Dallas Mavericks started the Western Conference semifinals with a defeat – a defeat that made it clear to Jalen Brunson in particular: The Phoenix Suns are not the Utah Jazz, and Deandre Ayton is not Rudy Gobert! How can Mavs react? Results from games 1.
1. Mavs vs. Suns: Goodbye to Cockaigne
The beautiful land of abundance called jazz perimeter defense is no more, Jalen Brunson was grossly awakened from this dream at. 114: 121 in Game 1 of West Semis. Gone are the days when the 25-year-old could move into an orphaned zone without resistance. The Suns will not give him gifts like Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Co. did all too often in the first round of the playoffs.
Against West Primus, Brunson’s drive was mostly intercepted very well by Devin Booker or the physically superior Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson. Or Deandre Ayton made it difficult for the Mavs guard with his long arms in mid-range throws.
For example, in Game 1 against the Suns, Brunson was on a meager 2/6 in the restricted area (and 5/13 in the zone), against Utah he still had 70 percent of his 20 attempts in the restricted area. His overall record of 13 points, 3 assists and 6/16 from the field still sounds extremely meager, of which 8 points came in the fourth quarter when Phoenix no longer acted with the highest intensity.
When Spencer Dinwiddie also dived (8, 3/8 FG), Luka Doncic with 45 points had far too little support by his side. “We just need someone else to join the party,” head coach Jason Kidd summed up the dilemma. Brunson is the kind of person he could have meant by that.
His 27.8 points in the first round against Utah seemed to confirm Brunson’s progress as the second ball trader and goal scorer last season. Game 1 was now a setback and for some a reminder of the post-season in 2021, when he saw some land against the Clippers’ long defenders.
Brunson is a better player than he was a year ago and now he has to prove it against the Suns. Which is encouraging: Among the misses was one or the other wide-open jumper, which slides through the trap without any problems on a good day. Mavs must hope Brunson gets a much better night in Game 2 Thursday night.
2. Mavs Vs. Suns: Started the game on the wrong leg
It would also be useful from a Mavs perspective if the Texans did not completely oversleep the start as they did in Game 1. The Mavs offensive play-by-play in the first few minutes read: Doncic revenue, Doncic miss, Doncic- step error, Dorian Finney-Smith revenue, Brunson miss.
When Doncic scored his first goal, it was already 9-0 to Phoenix, whose attack completely overwhelmed the visitors, giving the Suns a temporary 15-point lead in the first quarter. The fact that the Mavs did not completely lose control of the game was thanks to the warm hands of Maxi Kleber (19, 5/8 threes) and, of course, Doncic.
“Maxi and Luka kept us alive in the first half,” Kidd admitted. “We could easily have been 39 points down at the break, but Maxi and Luka played well. LD were also strong in the second half.”
As expected, Doncic Sun’s noble stopper Mikal Bridges met most of the time – over 38 possessions high nba.com/stats, where Doncic scored 10 and Mavs a total of 30 points – but Dallas understood it quite well to more or less shake it off with good screens or to climb switches. “He got everything he wanted,” Kidd said – except for that well-known lock-down monster JaVale McGee.
Perhaps the best news: The Slovenian was on the floor for 44:23 minutes, sniffing at Kobe-Bryant’s best values (Doncic is the youngest player with at least 45 points / 10 rebounds in a playoff match since Black Mamba 2001) and shines over having put the leg problems from the very beginning completely behind him: “I’m fine. In Utah I was much worse, maybe it was the height. But now I’m fine.”