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NBA

Game 7 turns into stroll in the park for Doncic and the Mavs

Luka Doncic’s Mavericks humiliated the top seeds, who simply didn’t show up for the decider at the Footprint Center.

Update:
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 15: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball during the second half against the Phoenix Suns in Game Seven of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at Footprint Center on May 15, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP
== FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
Christian PetersenAFP

Even the oldest onlookers watching Sunday’s Game 7 playoff in Phoenix had never seen anything like it. The Suns, last year’s finalists, top seeds - the team with the most wins during the regular season and the most victories on the road, lost their heads just when it mattered most. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where it all went wrong for the Suns. Monty Williams, NBA Coach of the Year, will have a hard job of explaining it - and so will the Mavericks, who expected a much tougher test at the Footprint Center. As it turned out, the Suns were like putty in their hands.

Not even for three minutes did the Suns pose a threat to the Mavs. Game 7s have historically produced some of the most memorable battles seen in the NBA but this one seemed more like a practice session with the public invited along - the home fans too shocked to even jeer or whistle their team. Phoenix, who ended the regular season 64-18, let a place in the Western Conference Final escape without putting up a battle - it was a nightmare from start to finish. At one point, the difference reached 46, and finished at 33 with the board reading 90-123 on the buzzer.

Suns fail to show up

The Suns scored a disappointingly low 27 points on their home floor in the first half, as threes rained in on the other end, and the Mavs went into the main change with a 30-point lead. Chris Paul and Devin Booker went AWOL just when they were needed most, generating little in terms of dribble penetration and combining for 21 points on seven-of-22 shooting.

In sharp contract to Luka Doncic - he had come into Game 7 with shooting splits of 45.7 and 29.6 per cent but lit the Suns up with the season on the line, finishing with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting. More importantly, Doncic was able to get his teammates good looks, with Dallas shooting an 48.7 per cent from the perimeter.

Doncic said afterwards, “This was an amazing team win. Everybody was locked in, everybody played as a hard as they can, no rest... we didn’t take one play off. So, this is an incredible team win. I just don’t have anything to say. Like I said before the game, you asked me what we learned from Game 7 last year and you know I said we learned a lot as a team. Most of the guys were there that year and we learned a lot. We just stay together, we play hard and we had a chance. I think we played unbelievably tonight”.

The Mavericks will now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals starting Wednesday. “They’re a championship team, you know, it’s going to be really tough again,” Doncic said. “But we’ve got to focus now on them. But I’m just really happy we got this win tonight. I’m going to enjoy this, and then tomorrow we can talk about Golden State”.

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