Mavericks vs Suns, quick points: Devin Booker leads Phoenix to pivotal win in Game 5 against Dallas

The Phoenix Suns are one win away from their position in the Western Conference Finals after they dominated the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night with a 110-80 victory to advance 3-2. The Suns capitalized on scoring dominance in the second half, as four players finished in double digits, led by Devin Booker with 28 points and seven rebounds. Deandre Ayton added 20 points as Suns made a point to make him more involved in attack, and Mikal Bridges knocked out his shot stagnation to finish with 14 points.

Despite his strength in the first half, Dallas trailed by a double early in the second half and never returned to the game. Poor shooting and 12 spins in the third quarter opened the game wide in favor of the Suns, and now the Mavericks face elimination at Game 6 Thursday night.

Here are three notes from Game 5 between the Suns and Mavericks.

1. The Suns revived this magic from early in the series

Phoenix looked like a shell of himself over the weekend in back-to-back losses for Dallas. Chris Paul had uncharacteristic turnovers in Game 3, and totally erred in Game 4. The Mavericks looked completely level playing at home to the Phoenix, but in Game Five on Tuesday, the Suns reminded the Dallas – and everyone else in the league – why they were the best team of the season ordinary.

While the first half was even, the Suns asserted their dominance in the third quarter and never looked back. Phoenix edged out Dallas 33-14 in the third quarter, to lead the Mavericks to 6-for-16 only from the field while forcing 12 turns. Dallas seemed completely out of attack, settling on poor shots due to a stifling Phoenix defense, looking completely helpless on the other end as Booker and Bridges continued to cook after halftime.

This was the exact kind of performance the Suns needed after two lackluster performances on the road. They rotated into the open man better in defense and reduced Doncic’s ability to drive to the edge and kicked her into the ocean. Without those matches for people like Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Maxi Kleber, the Mavericks were forced to beat the Suns with only Doncic, and, like the first two games of the series, this plan didn’t work.

2. The Dallas role was MIA

Entering Game 5, the Mavericks had three guys shooting at more than 40 percent of depth from Vinnie Smith, Bullock and Clipper. On Tuesday night, these three guys combined to go 3 for 12 only, with Bullock losing all three of his attempts. Dallas won’t win many games with these three guys suffering, and just part of the bigger picture was the Mavericks attack that completely faded in the second half.

Between the missed open look and ridiculous turnarounds, Dallas looked like he had completely forgotten the formula they had won in their last two games. The 12 spins made by the Mavericks in the third quarter were Most of the team committed to him in the quarter-finals Since the Knicks in 2012, according to ESPN stats and information. This is just ugly.

It wasn’t just about roles. While Doncic finished the match with 28 points, he again struggled to be effective from behind the arc, going 2 for 8 only from downtown. It’s now 3 vs 18 over the last two games from long range. Although Doncic scored 11 boards, he finished with only two passes, returning to a complete distrust of his teammates, something Dallas coach Jason Kidd has touched many times this season.

After finishing Game 4 with 22 assists, the Mavericks only had nine on Tuesday night. That’s just an unacceptable number for a team with a great player like Doncic. This low-help total paints a picture of Dallas’ lack of ball movement, and it can’t get into Game 6 – an elimination game – played the same way it was played on Tuesday night.

3. The Suns are on the brink of conference finals for the second year in a row

Phoenix completely outperformed Dallas in many ways Tuesday night, and now the Suns is carrying momentum heading into Game 6, a closing game on the road. While Phoenix has been in this particular position before in this series, he was big before hitting the road, something about Game 5 felt different from their first two wins in the series. It wasn’t that the Suns forced Doncic to defeat them while chaining everyone around him, but they also did a decent job of limiting his overall impact on the game. Doncic didn’t get to the edge quite as easily as he had throughout the series, and Phoenix’s plan to stop switching ball screens helped keep Bridges ahead of Doncic.

This sounds like a formula that the Suns could carry over to Game 6, and while I don’t think the Dallas players will play as badly as they did in Game 5, I think Phoenix could take another win to close the series. If it does, it will be the first time the Suns have reached back-to-back Western Conference Finals since 2004-2006.

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