Key takeaways from the Suns’ Game 1 victory over the Mavericks

The Phoenix Suns managed to fend off a late-game surge from the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, but both sides showed just how close this series could be.

Here are some observations from their initial fight.

Luka Doncic needs help in the defense zone

The Slovenian wunderkind in Luka Doncic fought as hard as he could to keep the Mavericks on the same level as the Suns, scoring 26 points in the first half and finishing the night with 45 points.

However, Doncic can’t keep doing something like that for the entire series, as the team risks being gassed and injured.

German center Maxi Kleber was their second best player tonight and will prove to be an important piece as explained below.

Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie put in lackluster performances with a combined 21 points while shooting a 9-of-24 clip from the field.

The rest of the Mavericks need to be able to make timely shots, whether they have a hand to their face or not, before Game 2.

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks gets past Royce O’Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz during the first half of Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 28, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Suns can’t afford to be complacent

The box score isn’t a complete indicator of how much the Suns dominated this game from start to finish, as they gave up 35 points in the final frame to give the Mavericks a much-needed boost to close out the game.

At one point, they were leading by 21 points, and seeing the final score 121-114 in favor of the reigning Western Conference champions must have been disappointing for some fans.

“We scored 121 [points] with that fourth trimester. We can’t have that kind of quarters against a team like that and give up a 35 [points in the quarter]”, said head coach Monty Williams in the press conference after the game.

Closing out the game strong in their next meeting has to be of paramount importance to the Suns.

Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns fans give a high five after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in game five of the first round of the Western Conference NBA playoffs at the Footprint Center on April 26, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 112-97.
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Maxi Kleber will be essential in the future

A 19-point performance from Kleber was exactly what the Mavericks needed to stay afloat for most of Game 1, as the Suns consistently allowed him to open three from the corner and wing.

Repeating his 5-for-8 shooting from deep will have to be on their to-do list as they look to steal home-court advantage from the heavily favored Suns in Game 2.

Kleber’s shooting bunt is going to be a weapon that Mavericks coach Jason Kidd needs to emphasize early to take advantage of the Suns missing out on their defensive assignments.

Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks
Maxi Kleber #42 of the Dallas Mavericks scores against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at the American Airlines Center on March 29, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Feed Deandre Ayton

Arguably the Suns’ most consistent player in the playoffs aside from Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton was on his way to a 30-plus-point performance if they had leaned more toward giving him the ball.

Ayton finished the first half with 19 points on 75% shooting from the field and finished the night with 25 points, allowing the Mavericks to get back in the game with about 10 minutes left in the quarter.

They need to keep him active throughout the game, as the combination of Dwight Powell and Kleber just isn’t enough to keep him at bay.

Unleashing the “Beast of the Bahamas,” as NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal would call him, has to be top of their game plan if they want to beat the Mavericks quickly and get the game. much-needed rest.

Deandre Ayton
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the second half of the NBA game at the Footprint Center on December 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Thunder 113-101.
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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