In other words, the Mavs probably had a better chance of winning the Powerball than winning a Game 7 on the home court of the powerful Phoenix Suns. Who easily were the best team in the NBA this season. But the Mavs took those stats, crumbled them up. Threw them in the trash can and then went out and shocked the world and the Suns, 123-90, Sunday night at Footprint Center.
The stunningly lop-sided victory shook up the NBA and helped the Mavs capture this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series, 4-3, and sent the Suns into a summer of heartache.
“No one gave us a chance,” coach Jason Kidd said. “A lot of people said it was going to be a blowout.
“Well, they were right. But they didn’t have us on the winning side.”
In fact, all 20 ESPN writers who cover the NBA picked the Suns to win this series. But the Mavs came out and led wire-to-wire while dominating a Suns’ team that had the best record in the league this season at 64-18, and the best home record in the league at 32-9.
“I know we were the underdogs,” point guard Luka Doncic said. “Everybody had the Suns to win this one. But like I said the whole locker room believe and that’s what won us the game.”
The Mavs now move on to the Western Conference Finals – for the first time since 2011 — against the Golden State Warriors. Game 1 of that best-of-seven series is Wednesday in San Francisco at 8 p.m.
Game 2 will also be in San Francisco on Friday at 8 p.m. before the series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on May 22 at 8 p.m. and Game 4 on LukaMay 24 at 8 p.m. If necessary, Game 5 will be May 26 in San Francisco at 8 p.m. Game 6 in Dallas on May 28 at 8 p.m. and Game 7 in San Francisco on May 30 at 7 p.m.
All night long against the Suns, the Mavs were the aggressors and played with a huge chip on their shoulders. When the Mavs weren’t attacking the basket, they were dropping three-pointers and had the Suns spinning like a top and wondering which direction they went.
The Mavs also got on the Suns’ last nerve with their chest-to-chest full-court defense that limited Phoenix to just 37.9 percent shooting. Things got to bad for the Suns that their own fans booed them when they went into the halftime dressing room trailing by a whopping 57-27 margin.
By halftime, Doncic already had scored 27 points – or as many as the entire Suns’ team. And at that point, Maxi Kleber had three points – or as many as the combined total of Suns All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Who were 0-of-11 from the field for three points at the game’s midway point.
Asked if he knew he had as many points as the Suns at halftime, Doncic flatly said: “Yeah, of course.”
The 27 points the shell-shocked Suns tallied in the first half are the fewest points scored in the first half by a home team in a Game 7. And the Suns’ 30-point halftime deficit is the largest halftime deficit in a Game 7 in NBA playoff history.
“We’re not looking at the blowout,” Kidd said. “We just came in and executed our game plan. I thought they came out as if it was just another game and played it at a high level offensively and defensively. We were active.
“You could see some of the pressure was probably on (the Suns) early. Because they missed some shots that they normally make. But I thought the guys did a great job for 48 minutes.”
The Mavs surprisingly led by as many as 46 points (111-65) after Spencer Dinwiddie tossed in a three-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.
While Doncic finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds and was 12-of-19 from the field. Dinwiddie came off the bench and poured in 30 points and was 11-of-15 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from downtown.
“I’m still kind of shocked,” Dinwiddie said. “The best team in basketball all season. You’ve got to give them credit for the season they had.” Spencer
“We were confident coming into the game. We definitely believed we could win the game. But I don’t think anybody was calling a 33-point victory, though.”
Led by Booker (11 points) and Paul (10 points). The Suns’ starters combined to score just 37 points – or two points more than Doncic scored. And Doncic didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Doncic set the stage as he scored the Mavs’ first eight points and had that look in his eyes that this was not a game he was going to let his team lose. At the end of the first quarter, Doncic already had 12 points and eight rebounds.
“He’s Luka,” Kidd said. “He loves the stage. (The stage) gets bigger, he gets better.
“I thought he set the tone of getting everyone involved and taking shots when they presented themselves.”
One shot Doncic took that presented itself occurred just before halftime when he shook Cameron Johnson so badly that Johnson tumbled to the floor. Doncic proceeded to finish that play and drain a three-pointer to increase the Mavs lead to 57-27.
“I’m having fun,” Doncic said. “I always say when I’m having fun is the way I best play.”
And when Doncic is at his best, the opponents are at his mercy. And that’s not a good thing for the opponents, which was the case with the Suns.
“Honestly, I’m really happy, man,” Doncic said. “You can’t get this smile off my face right now.
“Honestly. I think we deserve this. We were playing hard the whole series – maybe a couple of games here we were not ourselves. But we knew we came here with a statement Game 7. We believed, our locker room believed, everybody believed, so I’m just happy.”
Jalen Brunson is also happy. After a slow start Sunday, Brunson collected 24 points and six rebounds and was 11-of-19 from the field.
The home team had won the previous six games in this series. But the Mavs paid absolutely no attention to that. This contest was so lopsided that the Mavs led by as much as 46 points (111-65) after Dinwiddie nailed a three-pointer with 6:22 remaining in the game.
Asked to explain how they were able to easily handle the Suns, Brunson said: “I can’t really explain that at all. That’s pretty crazy. I think first and foremost you’ve got to give them credit.
“They’ve been the best team in the league since the (2020) bubble. They’re a great team, a well coached team. Honestly we didn’t expect this type of outcome the way it was. But we knew that we had a chance to win this game. And we kept that belief within each other and we just did what we had to do tonight.”
The Mavs led 92-50 after the third quarter and wound up shooting 56.8 percent from the field and converting 19 baskets in 39 attempts from downtown.
It was a reversal of fortune series for the Mavs, who heard the Phoenix fans shout: “Suns in four, Suns in four,” after Dallas dropped the first two games of this series on the road. But the Mavs went home and regrouped and won four of the last five games in this series. Including Luka Sunday’s head-turner that rocked the NBA.
“I thought it’s a great team win against one of — if not — the best team in basketball this season,” Kidd said. “To come on the road and find a way to win — everyone had something to do with it. This is a good win.
“We are a young team, first year coaching staff, we’re getting to know each other. But we have some special people in that locker room that believe in team. A lot of times in this league if you are a team, you find yourself winning games you weren’t supposed to.”