The Phoenix Suns will face the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the NBA playoffs after beating the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 6. The first game of round two will be May 2.
How will the Suns fare? ABC15's Collin Harmon and Craig Fouhy share their take.
Share your predictions below!
Sports Anchor Collin Harmon:
Here we go for round two, and let's hope for two things: No more injuries and a far less stressful series.
With that being said, I do expect a far easier path to advancing for the Suns this round. New Orleans was a matchup nightmare for the Suns. A big, physical team with two elite scorers, a lot of depth and that excelled at rebounding — the Suns' Achilles' heel. The Pelicans' depth was a surprise and gave a shorthanded Suns team fits. But Dallas doesn't present those challenges.
The Mavericks play small ball, so there goes a rebounding edge. With playoff Ayton activated, expect him to feast on that lineup this series.
Their bench is also short, with a seven-man rotation compared to the Suns nine- to 10-man rotation. The emergence of Jalen Brunson this postseason is an X-factor in this series. A teammate of Mikal Bridges at Villanova, Brunson is averaging nearly 28 points per game in the playoffs, or 12 points higher than his regular season average. Who guards him? Devin Booker? Chris Paul? Bridges at times? The Suns have options, but my guess would be Paul is the primary, while Booker guards Spencer Dinwiddle and Bridges gets his usual assignment of the best person on the court: Luka Doncic.
Doncic is a unicorn. A big-bodied point guard that can fill every part of the stat sheet in a hurry. But the Suns have the best chance of any team to slow him down. Between Bridges' all-NBA caliber defense, Jae Crowder's physicality or a smaller defender to get under Doncic, as Monty Williams said, the Suns have defensive prowess to throw a bunch at Doncic. Easier said than done, but historically speaking, the Suns have done well against him, winning seven straight.
With how slow Dallas wants to play — the slowest pace in the NBA — and how the Suns want to get out and run, it will be a fun series to see two contrasting styles. But nothing that Dallas does scares me. While Memphis and Golden State likely beat each other up for seven games in the other series, I think the Suns cruise to the Western Conference Finals.
Collin's prediction: Suns in five.
Sports Director Craig Fouhy:
Having just returned from Las Vegas for the NFL Draft, I'm going to lean on the odds-makers for my prediction in this series. That said, the Suns come into this Western Conference Semi-Finals matchup against the Dallas Mavericks at -275 favorites according to FanDuel.
Although opening a bit higher, the Suns are now 5.5 point favorites to win game one of the series... and as of this writing, Vegas has the Suns winning the series in five games, at +280.
Again, the Suns currently own a 77% chance of advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
While I'm not throwing all my eggs in the Las Vegas basket, I do believe that oddsmakers come out right more often than not and with the fact that the Suns were the best team in the entire NBA this season, I do believe they'll win this series in five games because they present so many problems for the much smaller and slower paced Mavs.
If the Suns rely on their speed and attack the basket like they have all season, and DeAndre Ayton continues to play like he did against the Pelicans, Dallas is no match for the Suns.
Yes, they do have Luka Doncic and I'll throw this in as a side note: Through his first 16 career playoff games, Doncic is shooting 49% while averaging 32.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. The only player to average more points per game in playoff history is Michael Jordan with 33.4.
So yes, Luka will be a load for the Suns to guard, but they do have the tools to do it and even if Doncic averages 30+ points per game, he can't run with the Suns.
Bottom line: The Suns are the better team and they present more problems for the Mavs than the Mavs present for the Suns.
Craig's prediction: Suns in six.