PHOENIX Dallas MavericksJason Kidd, coach of the Western Conference semifinals, has shared a similar message following both games. Luka DoncicMore help is needed to defeat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.
Dallas wasted another spectacular offensive performance from Doncic in Wednesday's game 2, when he scored 35 on 13-of-22 shooting, in a loss of 129 to 109 as the Suns took a 2-0 series lead. While Doncic was repeatedly targeted defensively by the Suns, the Mavs scored 71 points in second half.
Kidd stated, “He had a great match, but no one else was there.” We need to improve the shooting of other players. He can't score 30 points a night, and we won't win — not this time of year. And because we are the best team, we have to get the rest of the guys involved.”
Kidd mentioned specifically that the Mavs require more production from their guards Jalen BrunsonAnd Spencer DinwiddieThey have combined for just 41 points and 32.6% shooting in two losses at Footprint Center. This is a stark contrast to Brunson's previous series, when he was a star in the victory over the Footprint Center in the first round. Utah JazzThe average score was 27.8 in the six-game series.
Chris PaulAnd Devin BookerOn Wednesday night, the Suns' All Star Guard, dominated by relentlessly hunting Doncic. This was especially true in the second period, when Booker scored 21 points out of his 30, and Paul scored 20.
Booker stated that Doncic was a “tough matchup to guard”, but that he would have to be careful.
Second Spectrum tracking showed that Doncic was screener defender for 19 on-ball screenings in the second-half, which is the most in any half of Doncic's career. These possessions saw the Suns average 1.81 points per opportunity. This is the best efficiency achieved by any single defender in at least 15 direct picks during the last three seasons.
Doncic stated, “I just need to play better defense.” “That's it.”
The Suns opened the game in the first five minute of the fourth quarter. They extended their lead from six minutes to fifteen. Paul took control of the game, scoring 14 points and assisting with two assists. Paul found Doncic and used his switches to get a pair a layups as well as a pull up jumper. Cameron JohnsonFor a 3-pointer during the game-deciding 21-7 run.
Kidd expressed concern about Doncic's Suns target. “They're raising him into everything. That was something we knew going into the series. That was something we were able to confirm in the last series. We did a better job protecting each other than Luka. For Game 3 at home, we need to protect one another again.
Booker, Paul, and the Suns put on a historic offensive performance. Phoenix broke a playoff record with a 64.5% shooting percentage, including an impressive 84.2% in fourth quarters. The Suns shot 75.7% from the floor. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that ranks second all-time in a playoff game, trailing only the LA Clippers‘77.8% during a Game 5 win against the Mavericks, 2020 first round.
Paul, who also had eight assists was particularly masterful. He shot 11-of-16, including 9 of 10 in the second period. Booker finished 11-19% from the floor and 5-88% from 3-point range. His 3s all came after halftime.
Kidd stated, “When you look at CP or Book, they took turns.” “One took the third quarter, while the next took the fourth quarter. We didn't have any answers.” … They got the shots they desired. CP reached his spots and made jump shots as well as layups. Book made 3s. They are really good. They can understand the situation. They have seen it all. We just have to be better.
The Mavs will look for solutions when they fly back to Dallas on Thursday, as they are now in the second round.
Doncic stated, “A lot players, it's not the first time in that situation.” “We believe, man. They have to win four more, so it's still not over.