The top-seeded Phoenix Suns take on the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 2022 NBA playoffs. The Suns overcame Devin Booker’s injury in round one and finished off the New Orleans Pelicans in six games. Likewise, the Mavericks overcame an injury to their superstar, Luka Doncic, and defeated the Utah Jazz four games to two. Both Booker and Doncic are healthy now and ready to go for what should be an intriguing second-round matchup. Let’s break it all down.
|Suns in 7 (+310)||Mavericks in 7 (+800)|
|Suns in 6 (+400)||Mavericks in 6 (+600)|
|Suns in 5 (+300)||Mavericks in 5 (+1800)|
|Suns in 4 (+550)||Mavericks in 4 (+2800)|
The Mavs would not be here right now if it were not for Jalen Brunson’s performance in round one. Brunson averaged just under 28 points per game in the Utah series. In games two and three, with Luka Doncic on the sideline, Brunson poured in 41 and 31 points, respectively, and led the Mavs to wins. If he can duplicate that first-round performance, Dallas may be able to compete in this next series.
Luka Doncic played 42 minutes in the close-out game versus the Jazz and is a full go for round two. Although he did not shoot spectacular in game six, Doncic scored 30 or more points and shot over 50% in games five and six against Utah. It is going to be very interesting to see how Phoenix defends him.
Dallas is going to need another strong series from its role players to compete in this matchup. Aside from Doncic and Brunson, four other Mavs averaged double-figure points per game totals in the first round. However, it is questionable as to whether Dallas’ supporting cast can duplicate its superb performance from round one. In the regular season, Dallas was average in terms of offensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions, 112.9). On the defensive end, Dallas’ role players are going to need to help take some of the burden off of Doncic and Brunson when defending Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The defensive end was not as big a concern for the Mavs in the previous series with Utah.
Chris Paul and Devin Booker are one of the elite duos in the game right now. Paul was the best player on the floor in the first-round matchup with New Orleans. He averaged over 22 points and 11 assists per game on over 55% shooting in the series. Paul had one of the best games of his career in game six, scoring 33 points in 36 minutes on 14 of 14 from the field. He had eight assists as well. If CP3 plays the basketball that he played in the previous series (aside from game five) in this next series, the Dallas Mavericks can say goodnight. Although he did not shoot well, Devin Booker played 32 minutes in game six after missing games three through five with a hamstring injury. Booker has had a few days to rest since and should be a full go for round two. Booker and Paul both ranked in the league’s top 20 in VORP (value over replacement player), BPM (box plus-minus), and win shares in the regular season.
Phoenix has a terrific supporting cast around their two superstars. DeAndre Ayton averaged over 20 points and nearly ten rebounds per game against the Pelicans. Mikal Bridges averaged over 17 points per game versus New Orleans and was a finalist for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award this season. He figures to guard Luka Doncic for much of this series. Cameron Johnson averaged double-figure points per game in both the regular season and the first-round series.
The Suns are tremendous on both ends of the floor. Phoenix was the only team in the league to rank in the top four in both offensive and defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions). Six Suns ranked in the league’s top 70 in DBPM (defensive box plus-minus), and four Suns ranked in the league’s top 45 in OBPM (offensive box plus-minus) this season. Five Suns also ranked inside the league’s top 30 in defensive win shares this season.
Prediction and Best Bet
I think Dallas is overmatched in this series. At the end of the day, Chris Paul and Devin Booker are a better duo than Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson. Phoenix has a big advantage inside with DeAndre Ayton. Who’s guarding him? The Suns have one of the league’s best defenders in Mikal Bridges, who can match up on Doncic. I think Phoenix’s role players are significantly better as well. Unless Devin Booker re-injures his hamstring, I’d be shocked if this goes seven games. Phoenix is the better basketball team.
Best Bet: Suns -1.5 games (-135 on DraftKings)
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