Tonight at 2 am the challenge that the opponent of Golden State decides in the final in the West. The Suns have the advantage of the field, but Luka …
Everyone in the NBA says it: “Race Seven are the two most beautiful words in sport”. Because they have the flavor of a final, of that competition from inside or outside where you play a whole season in one match. Phoenix and Dallas will do it too tonight at 2am: their Western Conference semifinal is 3-3 after a string of home wins. This seventh game is played in Arizona, and is just one of the reasons the Suns are starting favorites. Slightly favorites, just to be clear, because the team that traveled a cut above the rest for the whole regular season seems like a memory at the moment. ”We worked all season to have the advantage of the pitch in a game like this, and now this is it, ”said Devin Booker.
The key to the Suns is Chris Paul. In the last 4 games it was not him, much more than what the statistics say. The 4.5 turnovers on average are the most unusual for a player accustomed to churning out assists without fail, but it’s the way CP3 is playing that alarms the Suns: he slips out of the action, leaves Booker to do it. carry the ball and fails to take control of the game. It is no coincidence that Phoenix has lost 3 out of 4 since CP3 lowered the level, after dominating the first two games with Dallas and the first round streak with New Orleans. “I’m fine” assures him, anonymous in the blow that the Suns took in Dallas in the sixth game.
“We worked hard all season to play Game 7 at home,” said Paul. Victory is obviously not guaranteed, but it’s better to play at home than in Dallas ”. The numbers are clear: at the Footprint Center Phoenix produces 120 points per game, outside it does not reach 100. “We have to take advantage of our audience – underlines coach Williams -. It will be the first time in race-7 with this group, the first time that we can finish a series in front of our fans ”. There is also this emotional component that adds anticipation for the match that is worth the season: “It’s exciting, I’ve never played a game-7 before – says Booker with a smile -. I’ve watched them since I was a child: I can’t wait to be part of them, to feel that energy. It is an incredible opportunity ”.
Phoenix has all the pressure on him: because they were the best team of the regular season, because they are the number 1 seeded and started the playoffs as a favorite. “I don’t think there is pressure in a game like this – says Jason Kidd -: this is basketball, you have to play and have fun. Whoever manages to execute the game plan better wins ”. The one in Dallas will be the same as the three previous appointments in Phoenix: defending as Doncic and his teammates up to now has failed to do away from home. “I’m sure defenses can travel” said Coach Kidd with irony. The game plan of the Mavs will be the same: try to exhaust Paul and send him out of laps as in the last four games (Reggie Bullock in race-6 did a great job), in order to have easier game in containing Booker, best scorer of the Suns averaged 25.5 points. “Our opponents are elite players – explains Frank Ntilikina, who in this series has carved out minutes as a defensive specialist -: you can’t stop them completely, you have to slow them down. And teamwork is needed to succeed ”. Just as in attack we need a team around Luka Doncic. The Slovenian was phenomenal in game-6, dragging the team to this beautiful one, and in these playoffs he is confirming that he has Jordan numbers: only MJ in his career has an average playoff points better than his 32.5 points (but Luka has played so far 22 games, Jordan closed at 33.4 in 179), only MJ and Wilt took fewer games than Luka (20 vs 22) to break through 700 points in the postseason. “Phoenix was the best NBA team in the regular season, but Game-7 usually goes to whoever has the best players and I think we’ve proven we have them,” says Spencer Dinwiddie confidently. The challenge is launched: whoever wins earns a rendezvous with the Warriors in the series that is worth a place in the Finals starting on Wednesday.
May 15, 2022 (change May 15, 2022 | 09:22)
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