The Phoenix Suns opened the Western Conference Semifinals with a pair of home wins over the Dallas Mavericks, taking control of the proceedings as the No. 1 overall seed. Dallas responded in kind with back-to-back home victories in Game 3 and Game 4, including a three-point shooting barrage on Sunday that evened the series at 2-2. With the scene shifting back to Phoenix, the pressure was back on the Suns but, after a bit of an uneven start, Devin Booker and company took care of business in a 110-80 victory to take a 3-2 series advantage.
Following a 37-point explosion in the first quarter of Game 4, the Mavericks threatened a repeat at the outset of Game 5. Dallas zoomed to a 10-3 run out of the gate, and the Mavericks led for the lion’s share of the first half.
The pace was quite slow in the first quarter, leading a modest-looking affair on the scoreboard. Both teams shot well in side the arc, though, and Devin Booker scored 12 points in the opening quarter to bring Phoenix back within three.
Book came in ready.
12 points in the 1st quarter pic.twitter.com/XJJLIxnS32
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 11, 2022
Dallas pushed its lead back to as many as eight points in the second quarter, even with Luka Doncic on the bench following a 12-minute stretch on the floor to begin the game. The Suns did answer, however, and Phoenix tied the game after a 10-2 run.
The Suns snuck into halftime with a three-point lead, offsetting the impressive start from Dallas. Booker was a huge part of the success with 16 points, and while Doncic had 18 points before the break, he needed 17 shooting possessions to achieve that production. Overall, the second quarter was far less efficient for both offenses, but the Suns were poised for a breakout.
Phoenix put together a 17-0 run early in the third quarter, taking a 68-50 lead in the process that doubled as the first double-digit advantage for either side. On one end, the Mavericks failed to score for more than five full minutes, going ice-cold at an inopportune time. On the other, Booker continued to operate at a high level, scoring 24 points on his first 15 shooting possessions, and the rest of the Suns got into the act with high-level play.
Booker and the Suns came out of halftime on fire pic.twitter.com/CkqpLD6CGO
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 11, 2022
CP drops a pocket pass to Ayton for the slam
— NBA (@NBA) May 11, 2022
The Suns weren’t done there, with the onslaught continuing. Overall, Phoenix out-scored Dallas by a 27-4 margin over an extended run, turning a one-point lead into a 24-point advantage late in the third quarter. The Suns eventually led by 22 at the end of the third period and, generally speaking, the damage was done.
Phoenix’s third quarter was awe-inspiring and dominant on both ends. The Suns shot 54 percent from the floor and scored 16 points in the paint with only two turnovers, taking advantage of a huge edge in the possession battle. That was prompted by Phoenix forcing 12 (!) turnovers in the quarter, made even more notable by the fact that Dallas is normally elite in ball security.
How bad was the third quarter for the Mavs? Their 12 turnovers were the most a team has committed in a playoff quarter since the Knicks in 2012, per @ESPNStatsInfo.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 11, 2022
The fourth quarter never became competitive, leaving extended garbage time and a comfortable win for Phoenix. The Suns shot 49.4 percent from the floor in the game and also attempted 16 more shots from the field, maximizing the possession game through offensive rebounding and turnover avoidance. Booker finished with 28 points, with Chris Paul adding 10 assists and Deandre Ayton producing 20 points and nine rebounds.
On the other side of the floor, the Suns held the Mavericks to 38 percent shooting and created 18 turnovers in the game while keeping Dallas away from the offensive glass. Doncic scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but it was not an elite performance by his lofty standard, and the Mavericks finished with only nine assists as a team.
Phoenix now appears to be in complete control of the series, simply by nature of a 3-2 lead and the advantage of Game 7 at home. Still, the Mavericks will have a chance to stay alive with a Game 6 win on Thursday, and Dallas was a different team at home during the series’ first trip to American Airlines Center.