The Dallas Mavericks obliterated the no. 1 seeded Phoenix Suns to the tune of a 123-90 beatdown in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they will take on the Golden State Warriors. Luka Doncic dropped 35 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the closeout match, while Spencer Dinwiddie provided a huge spark with 30 points off the bench.
The Mavs enter as underdogs against the battle-tested Warriors, who won three NBA championships in the previous decade. They will have their work cut out for them as they try to deal with the Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as the emergence of third-year guard Jordan Poole. Golden State's motion-heavy offense will make the Mavs' defense work, but they've shown all season long they are capable of winning games on that end of the floor.
With that said, here are three reasons the Mavs can score the upset versus the Warriors to advance to the 2022 NBA Finals.
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3 Reasons Mavs Will Upset Warriors In Western Conference Finals
3. Their defense has been on-point throughout the playoffs
Over the past couple of years, Dallas has always been a team that relied on its offense to win games. And while they've been humming offensively as of late, it's their defense that ultimately allowed them to pull off the massive upset against the Suns.
As the saying goes, “defense wins championships.” The Mavs' vast improvement on that end of the floor this season has taken them to the next level. And new head coach Jason Kidd has been at the forefront of that upgrade.
Dallas held a Suns squad that averaged 114.8 points during the regular season to just 92.8 points in their four wins. That top-notch defense also forced Chris Paul to uncharacteristically turn the ball over 3.7 times throughout the entire series. They also threw off Devin Booker with double teams, especially through their last couple of wins to clinch the series.
As mentioned, Golden State's man and ball movement is going to be a tough cover for any squad. But Dallas' ability to switch and play small would make them a good matchup against the Warriors.
2. The Mavs' supporting cast is stepping up and playing with confidence
If there's one thing that Game 7 win over the Suns gave the Mavericks, it's the confidence of the supporting cast.
Jalen Brunson has been amazing in these playoffs so far and has emerged as the de facto no. 2 option for the Mavs through this postseason run. As such, it's almost always expected for the lefty to score at least 20 points a night to give the necessary offensive help Doncic needs.
Spencer Dinwiddie shot just 33.9 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from three through the first 11 games of the playoffs. It was only a matter of time before the 29-year-old found his rhythm again. Dinwiddie dropped a playoff career-high 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting in the do-or-die Game 7. Sunday also marked the second straight game he made 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock have also stepped up their game, especially with their timely 3-point makes and terrific defense against the opposing team's best wings and guards. Those two will likely be the ones who will deal with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole in the next round. If they can replicate the defense they put on Booker and Paul to the conference finals, Dallas could just very well score the upset.
1. Luka Doncic is the best player in the playoffs so far
Doncic toyed with a Suns defense that finished third in defensive rating during the regular with the way he torched them with ease in Game 7. The smiles and subtle taunts he did after making ridiculous shots was becoming borderline disrespectful.
Even though he missed the first three games of the postseason due to a calf strain, Doncic has been nothing short of spectacular in the postseason so far. With the way he's been playing, the Slovenian guard could very well be the MVP of the playoffs through two rounds. And, it's arguable that he may be the best player in this series.
Through the seven-game bloodbath versus the Suns, Doncic averaged 32.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.1 steals. In fact, he had more points than Devin Booker, more assists than Chris Paul, more rebounds than Deandre Ayton, and the most steals among all players in the series. Talk about dominance.
If Doncic is able to continue his insane tear against a Warriors defense that has shown some cracks throughout the playoffs, the Mavs have a good chance to continue their Cinderella run.