In a series where the home teams have dominated, Luka Doncic and the Mavericks found another gear at home on Thursday night.
The Suns got to experience the Luka special — but not the kind Devin Booker mocked — as Doncic had 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. But more than that, he controlled the flow of the game and picked apart the Suns’ defense. Throw in Reggie Bullock (5-of-11) leading a Dallas team shooting 41% from 3 on the night, and it became a blowout.
The Mavericks dominated the Suns in Game 6, 113-86, setting up a Game 7 Sunday in Phoenix. This will be the Suns’ first Game 7 in their last two playoff runs.
In Game 6, the Mavericks controlled both ends of the court.
On defense, they again did a good job contesting the mid-range shots that Chris Paul, Devin Booker and the Suns thrive on — but Dallas was able to trouble Phoenix’s shooters all over the court. Look at the Suns’ shot chart.
Phoenix was hunting matchups, particularly for Paul and Booker, but they did it so much that they got away from some of what they wanted to do on offense in terms of ball movement. For example, the Suns in the first couple of games of this series pounded the smaller Mavericks inside with Deandre Ayton, and while he led the Suns with 21 points in this game they didn’t go to him early or often.
Then there were the turnovers — 22 of them for Phoenix. Or 23.7% of Suns possessions ended in a turnover, nearly one-in-four trips down the court.
However, the biggest problem for the Suns in Game 6 — and their biggest challenge heading into Game 7 — is the one everyone struggles with against Dallas:
There is no good answer for Luka Doncic.
He was the high scorer in the game, but he’s more an elite playmaker than a scorer, and when he’s got guys around him knocking down shots — as the Mavericks have done at home this series — Dallas is difficult to stop. This series has been a testament to how the Mavericks have built around Doncic with shooters and defenders that take advantage of his skills.
Bullock had 19 for the Mavericks, Jalen Brunson 18, and Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 off the bench.
Game 6 turned in the second quarter, when Dallas closed on a 19-6 run, turning a relatively close game into a 60-45 Mavericks lead at the half.
While the Suns would make a couple of second-half pushes, it was clear early on there would be a Game 7. The question is can Dallas bring their effort and play from this game to Phoenix for the Sunday showdown? The Mavericks have struggled in the Valley of the Sun this series, but now they just need one game.
And Thursday’s Game 6 gives them both the blueprint and the confidence.
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Suns experience the Luka special, Mavericks rout Suns to force Game 7 originally appeared on NBCSports.com