The Dallas Mavericks started the Western Conference semifinals with a defeat, a defeat that made it clear to Jalen Brunson in particular: The Phoenix Suns are not the Utah Jazz and Deandre Ayton is not Rudy Gobert! How can Mavs react? Game results 1.
1. Mavs vs. Suns: goodbye to the Cuccagna
The beautiful land of abundance called jazz perimeter defense no longer exists, Jalen Brunson was abruptly awakened from this dream at 114: 121 in Game 1 of the Western Semi-finals. The times when the 25-year-old could move to an orphaned area without resisting are over for now. The Suns won’t give him gifts like Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Co. have done too often in the first round of the playoffs.
Against West Primus, Brunson’s urges have mostly been very well intercepted by Devin Booker or physically superior Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson. Or Deandre Ayton made things difficult for the Mavs guard with his long arms in mid-range shots.
For example, in Game 1 against the Suns, Brunson was a measly 2/6 in the restricted area (and 5/13 in the area), against Utah he still had 70 percent of his 20 attempts in the restricted area. However, his overall record of 13 points, 3 assists and 6/16 from the field is extremely poor, including 8 points in the fourth quarter when Phoenix no longer acted with maximum intensity.
Since Spencer Dinwiddie also dived (8, 3/8 FG), 45-point Luka Doncic had too little support alongside him. “We just need someone else to join the party,” head coach Jason Kidd summed up the dilemma. Brunson is the kind of person who could have meant by that.
His 27.8 points in the first round against Utah seemed to validate Brunson’s progress as second ball manager and scorer last season. Game 1 hour was a throwback and, for some, a reminder of post-season 2021 when he saw little ground against the Clippers’ long defenders.
Brunson is a better player than a year ago and now he has to prove it against the Suns. Which is encouraging: among the mistakes was one or the other gaping jumper, who on a good day glides smoothly through the trap. The Mavs have to hope that Brunson has a much better night in Race 2 on Thursday night.
2. Mavs vs. Suns: He started the game on the wrong foot
It would also be useful from the Mavs’ point of view if the Texans did not sleep completely at the start as they did in Game 1. The play-by-play Mavs attack in the first few minutes said: Doncic lost, Doncic wrong, Doncic passing error , Dorian Finney-Smith lost, Brunson missed.
When Doncic scored his first goal, it was already 9-0 for Phoenix, whose attack completely overwhelmed the visitors and gave the Suns a temporary 15-point lead in the first quarter. The fact that the Mavs have not completely lost control of the game is thanks to the hot hands of Maxi Kleber (19, 5/8 three) and, of course, Doncic.
“Maxi and Luka kept us alive in the first half,” admitted Kidd. “We could easily have been 39 points down at half-time, but Maxi and Luka played well. LD was strong in the second half as well.”
As expected, Doncic has been facing noble Suns stopper Mikal Bridges most of the time – over 38 high-volume possessions nba.com/stats, in which Doncic scored 10 and the Mavs scored a total of 30 points – but Dallas got it pretty well to shrug off more or less with good screens or force changes. “He Got everything he wanted,” Kidd said, except that one the famous block monster JaVale McGee.
Perhaps the best news: the Slovenian stayed on the pitch for 44:23 minutes, smelled Kobe-Bryant’s best values (Doncic is the youngest player with at least 45 points / 10 rebounds in a playoff game since Black Mamba 2001) and he shines for having left his calf problems completely behind from the first lap: “I feel great. In Utah I felt much worse, maybe it was the altitude. But now I feel great.”