The Dallas Mavericks magic number to clinch a playoff birth coming into their resumption of season was one. As the clock ticked down to 30 seconds against the Rockets on Friday night, it looked like playoff basketball was set in stone. Then the meltdown happened. Another mishandling of a clutch situation from this young group of guys let a prime opportunity to make a statement and clinch a spot in the playoffs vanish.
The good thing about the bubble? Teams get a very quick turn around to bounce back from missed opportunities. So the Mavs set their sights on the Devin Booker-led Suns to clinch their first playoff birth since 2016 on Sunday.
Normal Season Record
During the”normal” part of the season, Dallas and Phoenix split their match-up record 1-1. Dallas won the first meeting 120-113 with Luka Dončić posting an absurd 42 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. It was arguably his best game of the season. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the Robin to Luka’s Batman with 26 points, including six threes.
In the second game Phoenix came out sharp and absolutely destroyed Dallas. It was one of the Mavs worst, if not the worst, performances of the season. Phoenix would go on to win 133-104 behind Booker’s 32 points, nine assists, and six rebounds in 30 minutes. DeAndre Ayton got to play in the second game following his suspension and put up a dominant 31 points and nine rebounds.
Suns First Game Notes
Phoenix played Washington in their first restart game, winning 125-112 behind Booker’s 27 points, four assists, and five rebounds. DeAndre Ayton dominated with a 24 point-12 rebound performance. The Suns big man even went two of three from behind the three line. The Suns controlled the lead for most of the game and seemed to have no issue getting what they wanted against Washington. Makes sense, considering Washington is without All-Star Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans.
Sunday’s Match Up To Watch
Devin Booker v. Luka Dončić is always going to be exciting. But Mavs fans should watch how KP and Ayton fare against each other. KP had a monster game on Friday with 39 points and 16 rebounds. But we played against a Rockets team that doesn’t have a true center. So KP got to post up, turn around, and shoot over smaller guys. DeAndre Ayton is a different beast. He is tall, long, and strong. He can also move outside of the paint and keep up with big men who also play on the outside. Based on how Ayton and the Suns manhandled Dallas in their second meeting this season, we need to see some improvement out of KP and Dallas if they want to clinch playoffs today.
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