Suns score vs. Mavericks takeaways: Phoenix drops Dallas in Game 1 when Luka Doncic's 45-point night isn't enough - New Style Motorsport

The Phoenix Suns looked a lot like the top seed overall as they made relatively easy work of the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, holding off a 121-114 win in Game 1 of their second-round series. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night in Phoenix.

Just 14 seconds into the game, Chris Paul hit a jumper from midrange to give the Suns a lead they would never lose. It took them less than five minutes to get their lead into double figures, which is where he would stay for most of the game. The Mavericks stayed competitive throughout and used a run late in the fourth quarter to make the final score respectable, but it never looked like they would actually win.

Deandre Ayton was terrific against the Mavericks’ small frontcourt, finishing with 25 points and eight rebounds on 12-for-19 shooting, while Devin Booker had 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Cameron Johnson added 17 points off the bench as the Suns shot more than 50 percent from the field for the game.

Luka Doncic led the way for the Mavericks, coming close to a triple-double with 45 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. He scored or assisted on 23 of the Mavericks’ 40 field goals. This was the sixth 40-point playoff game of his career.

Here are some key points of the game:

1. The Suns go from wire to wire with machine-like efficiency

In the first three possessions of the game, the Suns got a mid-range jumper from Chris Paul, a steal and slam from Mikal Bridges and an offside layup from Devin Booker. A few minutes later, Jae Crowder hit a 3-pointer on a pick-and-pop and it was suddenly 9-0.

The Suns would hold that lead for the rest of the game. While his defense is often praised, and for good reason, it was his mechanical efficiency on the offensive end that proved to be the difference in this one. There were a few stretches where the Mavericks got red hot from the 3-point dirt and Luka Doncic started coming out, but none of it mattered because the Suns got what they wanted on the offensive end.

This was a classic Suns performance: 50.5 percent from the field; 39.3 percent 3-point land; no one with more than 25 points but seven different players with at least nine; just nine turnovers as a team. The Suns obviously have a ton of great players, but this isn’t an all-time super team that outshines you in talent. Rather, they stick to their system, play within their roles, and just don’t give up.

2. Ayton makes the Mavericks pay

It took Deandre Ayton more than four minutes to get his first basket, a layup and one from Devin Booker in the pick-and-roll, but once he got on the board, he couldn’t be stopped. He finished with 25 points and eight rebounds on 12-for-20 shooting in one of his best postseason performances.

Since trading Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks have leaned toward an extreme small-ball approach. As a result, they are very difficult to protect, but they also give up a lot of size at the other end and Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber are at a huge disadvantage against centers like Ayton who can really score the ball.

Ayton had three dunks and was 9-for-15 in the paint. Even when he wasn’t in the best position or mishandled a pass, he could get up and shoot over smaller Mavericks defenders. Judging from Game 1, Ayton is going to be a big problem in this series, and it doesn’t look like the Mavericks have much of a chance to stop him.

3. Doncic’s brilliance is not enough

A calf strain kept Luka Doncic out of the first three games of the postseason, and even now he doesn’t look 100 percent. But even a lame Doncic is better than most players in the league, as he proved once again with a tremendous performance in Game 1.

Doncic was the only one who could do anything early on, as he scored 14 of the Mavericks’ 25 points in the first quarter. Despite his good start, they were down 10 at the first break. That turned out to be the theme of the game, as the Slovenian’s solo act fell short.

He finished with 45 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists on 15-for-30 shooting in 44-plus minutes, posting the sixth 40-point game of his career in the playoffs. No one else in NBA history has more games like this before their 24th birthday. He scored or assisted on 23 of the Mavericks’ 37 field goals (62.1 percent) while on the floor.

Even acknowledging that Doncic got a ton of points late in the game in a failed comeback attempt, it’s probably not a good sign that he almost had a 40-point triple-double and the Mavericks were easily outscored. Either he’s going to have to put together four superhuman performances, or someone else on the Mavs will have to step up for them to win this series.

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