The Celtics and Grizzlies will be looking to pick up wins on Friday night in the hopes of sending their respective Conference Semifinals to a seventh and deciding game. But as we await the outcomes of those games, we can already look forward to one Game 7 — the Mavericks‘ home victory over the Suns on Thursday assured that the two teams will play a win-or-go-home contest in Phoenix on Sunday.
It has been an unusual series so far, with none of the first six games decided by fewer than seven points. The Suns have won their three home games by an average margin of 19 points per game, but have lost their three road games by more than 15 points per contest. Those home/road splits bode well for the NBA-best Suns, who earned home court advantage with their 64-18 regular season record and will host Game 7.
Still, they’ll be coming off their worst performance of the series, a 29-point blowout loss in Game 6. In Thursday’s Mavs victory, Luka Doncic reinforced his claim as the best player in this series, putting up 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals while the Suns’ All-Star guards – Devin Booker and Chris Paul – combined for eight turnovers and just seven assists.
As Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays, it was the second game this series in which Paul recorded more turnovers than assists in a game, marking the first time in his career that he has done that more than once in a single postseason.
Suns head coach Monty Williams said after Thursday’s loss that his team didn’t match Dallas’ level of desperation. Starting center Deandre Ayton said Phoenix will have to adjust its intensity level for Game 7.
“It’s got to be a together thing where everybody is on the same page,” Ayton said. “And it wasn’t like that (on Thursday). There were a lot of mistakes. It felt like a regular season game, the amount of mistakes we had today. The turnovers, terrible, unacceptable. It was that type of game where it was just unacceptable, man. Them dudes, they wanted it more.”
The Suns are currently six-point favorites in Game 7, per BetOnline.ag, but if Doncic has another huge game and Booker and Paul aren’t at their best, there’s not a ton of room for error. The Mavs were one of the NBA’s best teams down the stretch – they had a better record than the Suns during the final two months of the regular season – and have shown by forcing a Game 7 that they won’t roll over easily.
What do you think? Will the Suns hang on and advance to the Western Finals for a second consecutive year, or will the Mavs pull off the upset?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your predictions.