The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Phoenix Suns 121-114 in Game 1 of their second round series. The Suns are the more talented team, and that was evident throughout the game. However, there are reasons the Mavericks still have hope going forward. Luka Doncic is the best player in this series, and the team with the best player always has a chance.
Here are the stats to know.
45, 12 and 8: Number of points rebounds and assists for Luka Doncic
Luka continues to be statistically the best player in the history of the NBA playoffs considering his age. Some of these were empty numbers at the end of the game, but the Suns had no answer despite throwing a plethora of defenders at him. Luka’s shot was not particularly effective tonight despite finishing 4-of-11 on threes. He must continue to take those shots for the Mavericks to have any chance. He simply did not have enough help tonight, but he also did himself no favors being loose with the ball in committing five turnovers.
19: Number of points scored for Maxi Kleber
Kleber continued his torrid shooting from the first round, but it was all for naught. He should start Game 2. He provides the Mavericks the best chance of competing on both ends of the court with the possible exception of the extreme small ball lineup. Kleber made five threes and was a breath of fresh air in the first half when no one other than him and Luka had more than four points.
2: Number of combined rebounds for Kleber and Powell in 40 minutes and 39 seconds of playing time
Kleber spends much of his time on the perimeter offensively and the Suns missed very few shots so some of his rebounding can be forgiven. This is still not good enough from the Mavericks big men. The Mavericks were outrebounded by 11 rebounds as a team with the Deandre Ayton/Javale McGee combo outrebounding the Mavericks center duo 11-2. One of the ways the Suns beat teams is by securing more possessions and tonight was no different. If Powell isn’t going to rebound he simply can’t play in this series. Ayton is big and athletic enough to both harass Luka and take away the lob when defending the pick and roll. That leaves Powell without much of a way to help the team.
0: Number of everything but rebounds and fouls (2 each) Josh Green contributed in his 10:03 of playing time
It is too early to write Green off entirely and this subject has been beaten to death, but Green is simply not an NBA playoff rotation player at this point. He should be a DNP-CD in Game 2.
21: Number of combined points for Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie
Both of the Mavericks other point guards struggled. The small ball lineup appeared to open up some spacing for both to attack late and the Mavericks should revisit that lineup earlier in Game 2. The Mavericks cannot win this series without major contributions from all three point guards. Coach Jason Kidd will have to find out a way to bring out the best in them, and he will.
Overall, this game was disheartening but it is just one game. The Mavericks also lost Game 1 in the last series and still ended up winning. The series is not over and no one should lose hope. As the Luka 1 shoe says, “Never give up, never surrender.”
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