It was no surprise when Luka Doncic calmly drained his first three shots of game seven to give the Dallas Mavericks an early lead.
The stunner came over the next two hours: The top-seeded Phoenix Suns had no response.
Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Mavericks blitzed the Suns with a 123-90 knockout on Monday (AEST), advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2011.
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“A lot of people said it would be a blowout,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said with a grin. “They were right.”
Of course, it wasn’t Dallas that was supposed to win on Monday. The Suns won the first two games of the series and then led 3-2, but the Mavs broke through, dominating in a hostile environment from start to finish in game seven. Conversely, it was an embarrassing no-show for the playoff-tested Suns — who advanced to the NBA Finals last season with a very similar roster.
Social media’s reaction to Phoenix’s shock loss was ruthless.
Former Celtics champion Kendrick Perkins and iconic ESPN host Stephen A. Smith were among several high-profile names in the NBA media to torch the Suns following the game seven upset.
The fourth-seeded Mavericks travel to face Golden State in game one on Thursday.
“Amazing,” Doncic said. “I don’t know what to say.”
Doncic earned the Mavs an early lead, making his first three shots, including two three-pointers. That helped Dallas push to a 27-17 advantage in the first quarter and a whopping 57-27 cushion at the halftime break.
Doncic and Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, combined to for in 48 of the Mavericks’ 57 points. Doncic’s 27 points in the first half matched the Suns’ team total.
Game seven drama? Not in the desert.
Simply put, the Suns looked overwhelmed by the pressure of a game seven They missed shots they usually make, made bad passes they usually don’t make and looked nothing like the team that won an NBA-best 64 games during the regular season.
By halftime, many Suns fans were booing at the unsightly display.
The series might have been closed but the individual games usually were not. Three of the first six games were decided by at least 20 points and none of the games came down to the final possession.
Game seven followed a similar pattern, except the team doing all the damage was the road team. Doncic was fantastic, making shots from all over the floor and finishing 12 of 19 from the field, including six of 11 on threes. He also got some help: Dinwiddie was fantastic in the first half with 21 points on seven-of-10 shooting, including four of five from three-point range.
Meanwhile, Phoenix’s All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker was never a factor. The 37-year-old Paul is a 12-time All-Star that has done just about everything possible in the game except win a championship.
After this setback, it’s fair to wonder if there will be many more opportunities. Booker finished with 11 points and shot three of 14. Paul had 10 points and four assists. The Suns shot just 37.9 per cent from the field.
“You could see some of the pressure was on them early,” Kidd said. “They missed some shots they normally make.”
Dallas beat the odds with the win: After the Celtics defeated the Bucks earlier Monday, the home team was 110-33 (77 per cent) in NBA Game 7s.
It’s the second straight year the Suns have lost a playoff series after having a 2-0 lead. They won the first two games against the Bucks in the NBA Finals last season before losing four straight games.
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