The Phoenix Suns started the Western Conference Semifinals on a strong note as they previously held a 2-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks. They looked impressive and well on their way toward advancing to the next round. However, Jason Kidd’s squad refused to go down easily as they managed to tie the series at two games apiece with a 111-101 victory in Game 4.
At this point, the series advantage is still up for grabs, and the team that can adjust better come Game 5 will gain the upper hand in this matchup. With that said, the Suns must make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible if they want to halt the Mavs’ momentum and regain control of this series similar to what they did in the first two games.
But before that, let’s take a look at two Suns players who had disappointing performances which played a part in their Game 4 loss to the Mavs.
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2 Suns most to blame after losing 2-0 series lead
Both Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder were unable to find their groove in Game 4 after getting into foul trouble. Surely, it wasn’t entirely their fault that there were fouls called on them. However, it definitely played a part in affecting the level of production that they had in Game 4 which hurt the Suns’ chances of winning.
Despite getting into foul trouble, Crowder managed to produce 15 points, six rebounds, and an assist in 36 minutes for the Suns. Meanwhile, Bridges was limited to a pedestrian line of six points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field to go with four rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes of action. Him not getting to play at his best was a huge blow to the Suns, given the things that he can do on both ends of the floor.
Additionally, getting Bridges to play more could’ve limited the point production of Luka Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith who scored 26 and 24 points, respectively. Ultimately, the importance of his role in the team has been emphasized even more amid the struggles of Chris Paul as of late.
If Bridges manages to keep himself on the floor more by avoiding foul trouble then the Suns can definitely get back on track and increase their chances of winning a pivotal Game 5.
1. Chris Paul
After a heroic performance in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Chris Paul suddenly crashed and put up poor outings in their last two games. In Game 3, he was held to only 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists as he was plagued by foul trouble. He also committed seven turnovers in the game after 36 minutes of action which led to a 103-94 loss.
In Game 4, Paul struggled even more as he fouled out early in the fourth quarter. He ended up with five points, five rebounds, and seven assists in only 23 minutes played as Phoenix completely squandered their series lead. His disqualification was a huge hit to the Suns in the final frame as they were in the middle of erasing the Mavs’ lead with almost nine minutes left in the game.
Without their starting point guard, the Suns weren’t able to play at the level that they wanted to as their opponents ran away with the victory. Even though he has been struggling, his team still needs him on the floor, given his veteran presence. Certainly enough, Phoenix would need the 12-time All-Star to get out of his slump and play like his usual self as soon as possible.
Moreover, his struggles on the floor will only make the Suns more vulnerable at this stage of the series. If Paul manages to find his usual playing form sooner than later then Phoenix can still bounce back and regain a pivotal series advantage come Game 5.