After a heated, bitter Western Conference Semifinals matchup, the Dallas Mavericks once again meet the Phoenix Suns. Luka Doncic and Devin Booker are swiftly becoming rivals, but Luka holds the advantage in terms of skill and playoff history.
Can Phoenix avenge their brutal 123-90 loss in Game 7? Their odds are found below, as well as predictions, key matchups, lineups, and injuries.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns Betting Odds
Although the Mavericks prevailed in their playoff matchup, the spread is -4.5 Suns with their moneyline at -180. Dallas, meanwhile, owns a +160 moneyline; therefore, they would need to win this game at least 39% of the time to be profitable long-term. The 218 over under is on the lower end of the spectrum for games today.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction
I am receiving 4.5 points for selecting the team with the best player, superior bench, injury advantage, and superior locker room? Give me the Mavericks covering the spread.
Luka Doncic is arguably both the best isolation scorer and boost to teammate shot quality in the NBA (for a full breakdown on this topic, check out my previous article). He mercilessly hunted Chris Paul in the pick and roll during the playoffs and exploited this Suns defense to perfection. Paul has only gotten older, and the replacement of Jae Crowder with Cam Johnson weakens the defense even further. Luka will be utterly transcendent and match the combined scoring and playmaking of Paul and Booker. Phoenix has no answer to Luka, which is devastating because Luka is essentially their system.
Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson hold more notoriety, but Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock as a duo are right there with them. They knock down open threes (which Doncic will create), defend at a high level, and crash the glass. The forward matchup is effectively even, although the Suns have a slight advantage because Bridges is the best of the four.
At center, Deandre Ayton is a proficient roll man with a solid hook shot. He is too passive though and doesn’t exploit mismatches to his potential. JaVale McGee is also a tough matchup for him because McGee reads the roll well and owns the necessary length to bother Ayton’s shots. When Christian Wood enters the game, Ayton will struggle to step out to the perimeter where Wood thrives. Overall, while Ayton is the best center in this game, the matchup doesn’t allow him to consistently display his strengths.
Meanwhile, Phoenix’s bench lacks the firepower of Dallas’ bench. Spencer Dinwiddie (15.8 PPG) can challenge for 6MOY through his scoring off the dribble and playmaking. Tim Hardaway Jr flashes microwave scorer ability, and Kleber will space the floor if he plays.
Phoenix can win this game if Paul did not regress, Booker scores efficiently, and Ayton aggressively seeks his shot inside and dominates. However, Dallas has too many superior factors to select Phoenix covering 4.5 points. Luka is another year closer to his prime while Paul is another year further from it. The Mavericks improved their roster over the off-season, and the Suns lost bench depth. This Phoenix team is still very good, but they no longer can be classified as a premier contender and regular season ruler.
- Mavericks are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings
- Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings
Which point guard wins the matchup? Can Payne lead the Suns bench? Check out their crucial matchups below.
Luka Doncic vs. Chris Paul
Paul hunted Luka in the first few games of their playoff matchup before the roles reversed. Both offenses heavily rely on their point guards to orchestrate the offense, although Dallas needs Luka to score at a much higher rate. Doncic inherently holds the advantage over Paul due to size and age, but the crafty veteran is the best floor general of his generation. The player who improves teammate shot quality the most while defending the other will likely decide the outcome.
Cameron Payne vs. Mavericks Bench
Jae Crowder and Landry Shamet are unavailable, so Payne must step up and pour in points. He has shown the capability to score 16-18 points on any given night, but the guard is plagued by inconsistency. Dinwiddie, Hardaway Jr, Kleber, and Wood/McGee form an excellent offensive bench unit; if Payne cannot score efficiently, then Dallas will pull away when the benches enter the contest.
Dallas Mavericks Starting Lineup
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineups
Dallas Mavericks Injuries: Davis Bertans (O), Frank Ntilikina (O), Maxi Kleber (Q)
Phoenix Suns Injuries: Jae Crowder (O), Landry Shamet (O)