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' Grant Williams' exploits choke the Celtics' defensive power

The power forward broke a record previously held by Steph Curry while Boston smothered Milwaukee's offense. (Author: Gardener)

Grant Williams'They met on the Celtics touchline, a playful jab that gave way to a firm handshake and a warm hug. Six months ago, the idea of ​​Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrating a Game 7 win over Milwaukee and preparing for a trip to the Conference Finals didn't seem improbable, even ridiculous, as Boston stumbled through the first two months of the season and Whisper to break Celtics' 20-year-old wings, who grow louder with loss Then the Celtics' season seemed to be bitten by a snake. It felt redeemed in the closing moments on Sunday as Tatum and Brown took to the bench and they were greeted by more than 19,000 fans. What a game. Seven games is the maximum the Celtics and Bucks could play, but nobody would have complained if they played seven more. Boston stars Tatum and Brown showed up. So did Milwaukee's top duo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday. There was Al Horford's 30-point try in Game 4 that saved the series. Bobby Portis' 14-point, 15-rebound performance in an exciting comeback in Game 5. On Sunday, it was Grant Williams - Grant Williams! — who led Boston's three-pointer attack and broke Stephen Curry's record for three-pointer attempts in a Game 7 along the way. Before Williams' exploits, before Boston buried Milwaukee in a three-way avalanche, that game was close. The Bucks built a 10-point lead early on. Antetokounmpo made six of his first nine shots, overpowering Celtics defenders on his way to the edge. He scored or assisted on 33 of Milwaukee's 43 first-half points and kept the Bucks within five at the break. The Celtics scored 31 points in the third quarter. Boston has lived and died by the three-point shot all season. The Celtics lost 18-50 in Game 1. They were 17-43 in a Game 6 win. On Sunday, when Milwaukee committed to keep Brook Lopez in the paint, they connected on 22-of-55 and scored 54 more points on three-pointers alone than Milwaukee, who had just four-of-33 -- the second-worst three-point throwing average in one playoff game ever. "We knew we would persevere," Williams said. We haven't put together a full game in this whole series. So we said, 'Why not now?'” Williams had never attempted more than nine three-pointers in a game prior to Game 7. Part of the Bucks' defensive strategy was to leave Boston's big men open on the perimeter. Horford made Milwaukee pay for it in Game 5. In Game 7 it was Williams' turn. Williams began to hesitate. During a time out, Udoka slapped him across the face. "I told him to let it fly," said Udoka. "They don't respect you any more tonight than they did earlier on the show...I basically said, 'Shoot the ball. Take the shots they give you.'" Williams did it to you and told you to keep shooting." said Williams. He made four of his 10 attempts in the second. With the Bucks determined not to let Tatum and Brown beat them in the paint, Williams took advantage of the airspace beyond the arc. "They gave us that," Brown said. "It was almost like they were using [Lopez] to prevent me and Jayson from getting what we wanted." Boston's defense has been the backbone all season. In Game 7 it was suffocating. Holiday scored 21 - but needed 21 shots. Antetokounmpo, roughed up by Williams, Horford and Smart, was 10-26. Only one Milwaukee player, Portis, scored more than two points off the bench. The Bucks had the third-best offense in the NBA during the regular season. The Celtics kept them below 90 points - twice. In the last 25 minutes, Milwaukee scored 38 points. Said Udoka: "We are not an accident." Udoka is the main reason for this. This team looked dysfunctional in November. Udoka seemed overwhelmed. He routinely tattooed his team in public. Udoka implemented a new defense that built on Boston's ability to switch. Offensively, he broke the team with bad habits. The Celtics had atrophied somewhat under Stevens, who was the first to recognize this in his new role as team president. Stevens, a longtime coach with a softer touch, hired Udoka, an ex-player, a longtime assistant who brushes aside the carrot in favor of the stick. In January, the defense clicked. Tatum played like an MVP candidate. Brown regained his All-Star form. A mid-season trade for Derrick White brought an experienced playmaker into the backcourt. A trade deadline deal for Daniel Theis strengthened the frontcourt. Boston had the NBA's third-best record after Jan. 1. The Celtics finished first in the NBA in defensive scoring and a fraction of a point behind Phoenix for the net scoring lead. In the first round the Celtics' defense kept Kevin Durant under 40% shooting. Antetokounmpo, a 55.3% shooter during the regular season, shot 45.5%. "He just has confidence," Brown said. “He never gets too high and never gets down. Heading to Miami now, Celtics-Heat will be another rock match. "Milwaukee has set us up really well for what's coming next," Brown said. The physical defense that wore down Antetokounmpo is turned to Jimmy Butler. It has the potential to be a great series. "Miami is a really tough team," Brown said. “A team full of dogs.

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Doncic leads Mavs over Suns 123-90 in Game 7 blowout

PHOENIX (AP) -- Luka Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Dallas Mavericks stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns with a 123-90 blowout in Game 7 Sunday night to reach the finals of the Western Conference. Dallas broke through away after the home side won the first six games of the series, dominating from start to finish in a hostile environment. Conversely, it was an embarrassing no-show for... (Author: Gardener)

MavsDallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) celebrates a goal against the Phoenix Suns in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff Semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. PHOENIX (AP) -- Luka Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Dallas Mavericks stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns with a 123-90 blowout in Game 7 Sunday night to reach the finals of the Western Conference. Dallas broke through away after the home side won the first six games of the series, dominating from start to finish in a hostile environment. Conversely, it was an embarrassing non-appearance for the playoff-seasoned Suns -- who advanced to the NBA Finals with a very similar roster last season. Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson looks at the scoreboard during the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff semifinal game against the Dallas Mavericks, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Phoenix. The fourth-ranked Mavericks take on Golden State in Game 1 on Wednesday. Doncic gave the Mavs an early lead and made his first three shots, including two 3-pointers. That gave Dallas a 27-17 lead in the first quarter and a whopping 57-27 lead at half-time. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) aims to score against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball-Western Conference playoff semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. Doncic and Dinwiddie, who came on as substitutes, collectively amassed 48 of the Mavericks' 57 points. Simply put, the Suns looked overwhelmed by the pressure of a Game 7. They missed shots they normally make, made misses they normally don't, and didn't look like the team that won the NBA's best 64 regular-season games. At halftime, many Suns fans booed the unsightly display. Three of the first six games were decided by at least 20 points and none of the games resulted in final possession. Doncic was fantastic, making shots from all over the floor and finishing 12 of 19 from the field, including 6 of 11 on 3s. He got some help too: Dinwiddie was fantastic in the first half with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) looks for a foul call against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball-Western Conference playoff semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. Meanwhile, Phoenix's all-star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker was never a factor. Paul, 37, is a 12-time All-Star who has done just about everything in the game except win a championship. Phoenix Suns center JaVale McGee (00) dives over Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber during the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. Booker finished the match with 11 points and shot 3 of 14. Paul had 10 points and four assists. The Suns shot just 37.9% from the field. Dallas beat the odds with the win: After the Celtics defeated the Bucks the previous Sunday, the home team went 110-33 (77%) into NBA Game 7. It's the second straight year the Suns have lost a playoff series after a 2-0 lead. They won the first two games against the Bucks in last season's NBA Finals before losing four straight games. Mavericks: Doncic and Dinwiddie became the first teammates to score at least 20 points in a half in Game 7 since Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston did it for the Knicks in 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Suns: Phoenix shot just 6 of 23 (26.1%) from the field in the first quarter. The Suns hosted another sold-out crowd at the Footprint Center. The Suns are the second team in NBA history to win at least 64 regular-season games and fail to make the conference finals. The other was the Mavericks in 2007. Phoenix has never won a title since coming to the league in 1968.

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The suns and their season succumbed to the terror of Luka Doncic

Phoenix's season - which had been the best in franchise history prior to the playoffs - ended Sunday night in shocking, bewildering and humiliating fashion. (Author: Gardener)

sunsPHOENIX -- The first time it felt like the Suns might be in serious trouble was just over two minutes into the game. By this point, Dallas had an insignificant 5-3 lead when Luka Dončić dribbled the ball across the half court to the center of the floor. After summoning Deandre Ayton into a screen at the top of the button and forcing Mikal Bridges to fight for it, Dončić did what he had already done many times throughout the series: He dribbled to the left and effortlessly kicked back into a three-pointer that gave him all eight points of the Mavs. In that moment, as the ball went through the net, Dončić went from being a 23-year-old prodigy to a horror-movie villain who realized the strength of his own powers. Phoenix's season - which had been the best in franchise history prior to the playoffs - ended Sunday night in shocking, bewildering and humiliating fashion. Phoenix's season - which had been the best in franchise history prior to the playoffs - ended Sunday night in shocking, bewildering and humiliating fashion. The Suns were beaten with a loss of 123:90. Didn't Dončić need more playoff seasons before he could reach the finals? Shouldn't this be the picture book finish that had long eluded Chris Paul? Aren't the Suns by far the best team in the NBA? Dallas put all of those questions to bed with mercilessness and brutality in a landscape-changing victory for the league. You have to start with Dončić. Every time he dribbled the ball to the ground after that early step backwards, you could feel the jittery, uncomfortable energy in the arena. Luka played with DPOY finalist Mikal Bridges. He fielded a center in Ayton and a point guard in Chris Paul and had success with both. Dončić was ruthless, scoring effortlessly and laughing in the face of Phoenix's agony. Some Suns players tried to relax ahead of Sunday's seventh game. Devin Booker said he would play video games or take a dip in his pool to cool off from the valley's sweltering heat. But there's a reason Monty Williams said before the game he could hardly sleep. And that's largely thanks to a player like Dončić, who can turn a top-three defense to dust with a smile. At half-time, Luka had as many points as the entire Suns team combined. (He finished the game at 35. The Phoenix starters had 37.) It was as thorough whooping as you'll ever see in pro sports, and that's with some great players on the other side of the parquet. It was a particularly ignominious loss for Paul, whose playoff career - fair or unfair - somehow continues to be defined by missed opportunities. The 2-0 lead in the final. How much can one of the best to ever dribble a basketball - which is undeniable, no matter how much it may irritate you - endure? Paul didn't reveal anything after the game. He said it was just a defeat. He said his only message to the team was that it was time to get back to work. He said he had a feeling they would come back next year (and that people said he blew his best shot at a title since 2008). The reality is it's hard to imagine Paul being in such an advantageous position again. Paul had a game 7 on his home floor and couldn't capitalize. And that's not even touching on his personal performance in this series, which fell dramatically after a masterpiece in Game 2. Throughout his career, Paul was one of the players in the league most adept at forcing a game played on his terms. He even manipulated Luka earlier in the series. It was all the more shocking that when Game 7 slipped away early, he couldn't get a grip. That still doesn't make Paul's game any less of a head-scratcher. (Though there were reports of a quadriceps injury after the game. For what it's worth, Paul was never listed on the injury report during the series.) Meanwhile, Devin Booker was struggling with Blitzes and couldn't find the hoop. Bridges went 0-to-3 from beyond the arc, meaning he ended the streak with five made threes, or as many as Spencer Dinwiddie hit in Game 7 alone. Ayton played just 17 minutes amid clear tension with Williams. (After the game, when asked about Ayton's limited playing time, Monty said, in a normally soft voice, a tight, stern "It's internal.") No one stepped forward, although, as Cam Johnson put it, the "want and desire" was very much much there. The loss was a record-breaking moment for the Suns. They play all year to make home court in a Game 7 only to get run off the floor anyway. Paul will be 38 before the Finals next year. I'm sure you're hoping Booker and Bridges are better. But what about Ayton, who ended the series poorly and is now given unrestricted free reign? What happens at backup point guard after Cam Payne is benched mid-series? Will Johnson get an extension or enter a contract year like Ayton? Ideally, these questions come after the finale, when everyone's breath still smells of champagne. Instead, they come abruptly, like all the lights that are turned on in the middle of the night. Instead of asking questions about how to build around Luka, the Mavs won a series no one expected to win. They play for house money, a dangerous proposition for anyone forced to contend with their bespoke postseason style of basketball. After the game, the cheers could be felt in the bowels of the arena. The cheers from the Dallas locker room rang louder than anything the fans could muster in the second half. Good luck to the Warriors, the latest team to deal with the Dončić conundrum. From Paul's legacy to Lukas' chance to become the guy to beat, the ramifications of this game are significant. Only two teams with as many wins as the Suns (the 2007 Mavs and the 2016 Spurs) in league history have failed to make at least the Conference Finals. And those stats still don't really capture how shocking Phoenix's loss was. Losses like this don't exist in the NBA, either at the one-game level or at the series level. For the second summer in a row, the suns are having to dig deep to respond. One of the coachisms Monty Williams dropped early in Round 2 was having "reasonable fear" of the opponent. Seemingly every time Dončić had the ball after that early setback three on Sunday night, you could feel the crowd's fear growing. But Sun's fans were ultimately right to be terrified.

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Suns 2022 free agents, goals and draft needs after losing NBA playoffs

The Phoenix Suns' pursuit of the franchise's first NBA title ended Sunday with a decisive 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. (Author: Gardener)

NBAPhoenix went into the 2021-22 season with clear championship expectations and the core quartet of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges were there after reaching last year's NBA Finals before falling to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns had the NBA's best regular-season record at 64-18, eight games better than their closest competition (Memphis Grizzlies, 56-26). They went on to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round in six games before slowly disbanding against Dallas. While the team's championship window should remain wide open towards next season, the roster could still look a little different going into 2022. 23 seasonal tips. It's hard to imagine Ayton not returning next season. The Suns will make him a qualifying offer and will match any offer sheet he's handed by another team, although it's the easier way to handle it even with a long-term extension. Holiday expects to return after picking up solid depth in the backcourt acquired in a trade with the Washington Wizards in February. All unrestricted free agents want to test the open market but could return to Phoenix depending on the types of offers they receive from elsewhere. The Suns aren't expecting to become a major player in the open market this summer. Let's look at a potential target in each of these areas. The sixth NBA Man of the Year for 2020 is coming off another year of solid two-way production in 2021-22, a season he split between the Wizards and Charlotte Hornets. His ability to make such a significant impression without many offensive touches makes him ideal for Phoenix. Harrell could share time with Jae Crowder as a power forward and also play some spare minutes in the middle if neither McGee nor Biyombo return. Like Harrell , Anderson is a free-agent target based on his overall contributions. His role for the Grizzlies has waned this season, but he's just a year away from averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals on a traditional or small-ball lineup, giving his value raised for a title contender. The Suns currently have no picks in the 2022 NBA draft. They traded their first-rounder for Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder in November 2020 and they sent their second-rounder to the Indiana Pacers in February for reserve forward Torrey Craig someone who could potentially rival Cameron Payne if 36-year-old Paul vacates the point guard spot fits the picture with ssists and 1.8 steals in 34 appearances. He shot 47.0 percent from the field and averaged 2.1 threes while shooting 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. The 22-year-old Californian steadily improved his offensive game throughout his five seasons in San Francisco and was given the opportunity to start his NBA career behind the incredibly efficient Paul will only help continue that growth. Bouyea is also a fast-twitch defender who should be of enough height (6'2", 180lbs) to protect opposing point guards, although he may not have a lot of defensive versatility. All things considered, he should prove to be a reliable NBA player Highlight role players with the potential to become a starter with continuous development, especially in a successful system like the one in Phoenix.

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Suns stars remain hidden as season ends in embarrassing Game 7 loss

Losing Game 7 of the NBA Playoffs is usually not a shame. But it was for the Suns against the Mavericks on Sunday. (Author: Gardener)

SunsAbout the excitement of playing a Game 7 in the NBA Playoffs, how they earned the right to play it at the Footprint Center by ending the regular season with the best record in the league, how they knew they could do better would play after being blown out in Game 6 in Dallas. In hindsight, the Suns should have put a lid on it, maybe like the one attached to their baskets against the Mavericks on Sunday. Getting beaten in Game 7 doesn't usually come with shame, but the Suns' 123-90 loss on Sunday was. Use the sharpest words you can find to describe what happened in this game 7: Debacle. The Suns talked about the magic of a big moment, but when the moment came, they trembled. Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic made some unlikely shots. The Suns missed a few reasonable tries. The suns grew thicker. "We couldn't get some shots early on and that messed us up a bit," said coach Monty Williams. Minutes into the game, the Suns were shaken, which speaks to how fragile the regular-season best team has become over the past month. Williams chided himself a couple of times after the game, saying he didn't have his team ready for Game 7, but his players rightly denied it. They explained that at a time when they had to play one of their best games, they were playing their worst. They scored just 6 field goals from 23 in the first quarter and scored 17 points, and it was hard to imagine anything worse. They only had four field goals in that quarter and by the end of the half they were building up 3-pointers like it was a church league and not Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Guard Devin Booker missed all seven first-half tries to finish with 11 points. Point guard Chris Paul was 0-to-3 early in the game and only scored 10 goals. Deandre Ayton took five shots, scored five points and played 17 minutes. "Internally," Williams said, suggesting all is not well with Ayton and the organization. Meanwhile, Doncic dominated, whom the Suns passed Ayton as the overall winner in 2018. He scored 37 points in just 30 minutes of work and was clearly the best player of both teams throughout the series. The Suns needed at least one of the trio of Booker, Paul and Ayton, preferably more, to at least play their normal games. "You can have those nights here and there in the regular season where your shot can't fall and they take every shot," Booker said. "It was just the wrong timing in Game 7." Paul played poorly for the fifth consecutive season, leading to speculation that he was unhealthy. In his last five games, Paul has fired just 36 shots, averaged 9 points, committed 18 turnovers and only managed 27 assists. Even if Paul was injured, there was no excuse for the Suns to play like they did on Sunday night. Forward Cam Johnson said after the game he would give anything to rewind the clock five hours, a sentiment shared by thousands of Suns fans. It was a collapse of such monumental proportions that it will take most of the offseason to find out. The Suns were 2-0 up in that series. They lost four of the next five to the fourth seed Mavericks and were uncompetitive in none of the losses. They got passed and overplayed, two things that didn't seem possible for much of the regular season. When Williams Mavs coach congratulated Jason Kidd after the game, Williams told him, "You kicked our butt." Williams was referring to Sunday's game, but it applied to others in the series as well. Warning signs that all was not well with the Suns came in the opening series of the playoffs when the Pelicans pushed the Suns with their physicality and tenacity. The Suns showed an annoying tendency to sit out games. They seemed to think they could always become the best team in the NBA again. We saw more of that against the Mavericks in the first six games of the Western Conference Semifinals, how they confused and dismantled the Suns three times in Dallas. Anyone who watched the Suns in the regular season thought that was possible? Paul was terrible in the last five games, Booker was shut down in Games 6 and 7, and the bench, which had been a disadvantage in most of those playoffs, wasn't equipped to dig the Suns out of a small dip, let alone out a hole in the ground, it swallowed the hopes of long-suffering Suns fans. They have scars from Finals losses in '76 and '93 and '21, from wiping out a series lead to the Rockets to suspensions to the Spurs and on and on. But never out of embarrassment until Game 7 on Sunday night. Reach Kent Somers in Kent. [email protected]

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CP3 says he's not retiring as Suns implode in G7

Chris Paul says he's not retiring and hopes the Suns "will be right back next year" after their season ended in a stunning Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. (Author: Gardener)

SunsPHOENIX -- For the second straight year, Suns point guard Chris Paul's season came to an end as his team failed to defend a 2-0 series lead en route to a disappointing exit from the NBA playoffs. And for the second year in a row, Paul felt compelled to announce that he has no plans to leave the game immediately following this devastation. "You play long enough and you don't win. Every time you lose, they'll say it was your best shot," Paul said after the Suns' 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Westerns Conference Semifinals Sunday. The way the series ran reflected Paul's play for the Suns. He averaged 23.5 points in his first two games and just two turnovers - including a masterful 14-point fourth quarter in Game 2 - and Phoenix took a 2-0 lead. But in his last five games, all after his 37th birthday on May 6, he's averaged 9.4 points and 3.6 turnovers. Phoenix lost four of five and collapsed in a similar fashion to his NBA Finals loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, when two wins were followed by four losses. Paul was impotent on Sunday, finishing the game with 10 points and four assists, but didn't score his first field goal until the Suns were 40 points behind in the third quarter. While Suns coach Monty Williams, who was named NBA Coach of the Year earlier this week for leading Phoenix to a franchise-record 64 regular-season wins and No. 1 overall in the playoffs, blamed it took on for the defeat. Paul wouldn't accept that. "I think we just came out and just didn't have enough," Paul said after the Suns' 30-point halftime deficit was the largest halftime lead in Game 7 history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. "I think Mont said it's at his expense, but I think it's on me as the point guard, the leader of the team. Coming out and making sure you're making the right shots and stuff like that.” Mavs star Luka Doncic single-handedly kept up with the Suns, scoring 27 points of his own in the first half to level with Phoenix's 27 as a team. Dallas led 57-27 at the break and extended their lead to as much as 46 points in the fourth quarter -- the widest lead in a Game 7 in the past 25 years, according to data from ESPN Stats & Information. While Paul finished with the worst plus-minus of his 17-year career between the regular season and the playoffs together -- outscoring the Suns by 39 points in the 31 minutes he played -- it wasn't like his teammates had much cut off better. Devin Booker, who was Phoenix's other All-Star this season alongside Paul, had 11 points in 3-for-14 shooting, well below his average of 26.5 points per game in the last two postseasons, which ended Sunday kick off. "They did a good job snatching the ball out of my hands and intercepting every move I was in," Booker said. Sun's big man Deandre Ayton finished the game with just five points and four rebounds. He was drawn at 8:26 in the third quarter and didn't come back after an exchange of words with Williams on the bench. "It's internal," Williams said tersely when asked why Ayton only played 17 minutes, the third fewest minutes the former No. 1 pick has played in a game of his career. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said the awesomeness of the moment in the win-or-go home game may have reached the Suns. "We basically played our worst game of the season tonight," Williams said. “I spoke to them about hearing all the praise all year, winning all the games and setting records and all that stuff. Phoenix joined the Dallas Mavericks in 2006-07 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2015-16 as the third team in league history to win at least 64 regular-season games and fail to reach at least the conference finals. The 60 combined points that put the Suns in Losing Games 6 and 7 represented the second-largest point difference from Games 6 and 7 of a playoff series that dates back to 1962, when the Warriors defeated the St. Louis Bombers by 62 points in the last two games, according to a Investigation by ESPN Stats & Information. "It was good old-fashioned ass panting," Booker said. Paul is now 3-5 in Game 7 of his career after losing four straight and the 2021-22 Suns are now a poster child for coming up small in a big moment. As brilliant as Doncic and the Mavs looked on Sunday, the Suns were a dominant group all season — the only team to finish in the top five both offensively and defensively — until they weren't. They went from first-time record holders to authors of one of the worst performances in NBA postseason history in 48 minutes. "It's all so blurry right now," Paul said. "The season just ended.

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Doncic leads Mavs over Suns 123-90 in Game 7 blowout

PHOENIX (AP) -- It came as no surprise as Luka Doncic looked ready for Game 7 and calmly fired his first three shots to give the Dallas Mavericks an early lead. Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Mavericks defeated the Suns with a 123-90 knockout on Sunday night to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011. "A lot ... (Author: Gardener)

Game 7Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) celebrates a goal against the Phoenix Suns in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff Semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. PHOENIX (AP) -- It came as no surprise as Luka Doncic looked ready for Game 7 and calmly fired his first three shots to give the Dallas Mavericks an early lead. The force came over the next two hours: the top seeded Phoenix Suns had no answer. Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Mavericks defeated the Suns by a 123-90 KO on Sunday night. and reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011. Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson looks at the scoreboard during the first half of Game 7 of a Western Conference NBA basketball playoff semifinal game against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Phoenix. "A lot of people said it was going to be a blowout," said Mavs coach Jason Kidd with a grin. Of course, Dallas shouldn't win on Sunday. The home side won the first six games of the series, but the Mavs broke through and dominated from start to finish in a hostile environment. Conversely, it was an embarrassing non-appearance for the playoff-seasoned Suns -- who advanced to the NBA Finals with a very similar roster last season. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) aims to score against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball-Western Conference playoff semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. "We played all season to be in this situation," said Suns guard Chris Paul. The fourth-seeded Mavericks take on Golden State in Game 1 on Wednesday. "I can't get that smile off my face," Doncic said. Doncic put the Mavs ahead early and made his first three shots, including two 3-point shots that gave Dallas a 27-17 lead in the first quarter and a whopping 57-27 cushion at halftime. Phoenix Suns Guard Devin Booker (1) looks for a foul call against the Dallas Mavericks in the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball-Western Conference playoff semifinals Sunday, May 15, 2022. Doncic and Dinwiddie coming off the bench , combined to pick up 48 of the Mavericks' 57 points Doncic's 27 first-half points equaled the total number of Suns team Phoenix Suns center JaVale McGee (00) dunks over Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber during the first half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff Semifinals, Sunday May 15, 2022, at Ph Oenix. "It's still kind of shocking," Dinwiddie said. Dallas Mavericks fans cheer during the second half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff Semifinals game against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. Simply put, the Suns looked overwhelmed by the pressure of a Game 7. They missed shots they normally make, made misses they normally don't, and didn't look like the team that won the NBA's best 64 regular-season games. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, forward Jae Crowder (99) and center JaVale McGee react to a call during the second half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff semifinal game against the Dallas Mavericks, Sunday, May 15, 2022 , in phoenix. "This group has a lot of character and integrity and I know how badly they wanted it," said Suns coach Monty Williams. Couldn't get a shot early so that messed us up a bit and Dallas played with tails from start to finish. At halftime, many Suns fans booed the unsightly display. The series may have been tight, but the individual games usually weren't. Three of the first six games were decided by at least 20 points and none of the games resulted in final possession. Phoenix Suns players watch from the bench during the second half of Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Phoenix. The Mavs led this one with 46 points. Doncic was fantastic, making shots from all over the floor and finishing 12 of 19 from the field, including 6 of 11 on 3s. He got some help, too: Dinwiddie excelled in the first half with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic hugs Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, after Game 7 of an NBA Basketball Western Conference Playoff semifinals, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Phoenix. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 123-90. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 123-90. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 123-90. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 123-90. They became the eighth pair of teammates to score 7 30 points in a game, the first since Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2002. Meanwhile, Phoenix's all-star backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker was never a factor. Paul, 37, is a 12-time All-Star who has done just about everything in the game except win a championship. Booker finished the match with 11 points and shot 3 of 14. Paul had 10 points and four assists. The Suns shot just 37.9% from the field. "You could see early on that some of the pressure was on them," Kidd said. "They missed some shots that they usually do." Dallas beat the odds with the win: After the Celtics defeated the Bucks the previous Sunday, the home team went 110-33 (77%) into NBA Game 7. It's the second straight year the Suns have lost a playoff series after a 2-0 lead. They won the first two games against the Bucks in last season's NBA Finals before losing four straight games. Mavericks: Doncic and Dinwiddie became the first teammates to score at least 20 points in a half in Game 7 since Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston did it for the Knicks in 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Suns: Phoenix shot just 6 of 23 (26.1%) from the field in the first quarter. The Suns hosted another sold-out crowd at the Footprint Center. The Suns are the second team in NBA history to win at least 64 regular-season games and fail to make the conference finals. The other was the Mavericks in 2007. Phoenix has never won a title since coming to the league in 1968. Deandre Ayton only played 18 minutes and finished with five points and four rebounds. When asked about Ayton's lack of playing time, Williams replied, "It's internal." Ayton did not speak to the media after the game.

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5 takeaways from Suns-Mavericks Western Conference Semifinals Game 7

Lukas dominance in the elimination game, the Suns grow cold and a different approach proves crucial as the Mavericks advance to take on the Warriors. (Author: Gardener)

SunsPHOENIX -- The past, present and future of Dallas clashed in hugs and handshakes on Sunday when Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki made love to Luka Doncic after the Mavericks' 123-90 triumph over the top-ranked Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. The 23-year-old superstar posted a game-high 35 points, added 10 rebounds and four dimes to lead Dallas to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 — coincidentally the year Nowitzki won his only championship. as the Mavs came down from a 2-0 deficit for the third time in franchise history en route to a stunning 4-3 elimination of the Suns. "I think we learned a lot from Game 7 (versus the LA Clippers in the opening round) and Game 6 last year," Doncic said. Her outstanding game spoke for itself. Sunday's result at the Footprint Center marked the first road win for both teams in this slugfest of a series. Dallas clinched its first win at the Suns' home arena since November 29, 2019, when they ended an eight-game losing streak in Phoenix by earning the third-largest winning margin (33 points) in playoff team history. We'll cover Doncic's special night and Dallas' dominance as well as the future of Sun's veteran point guard Chris Paul in our five takeaways from that surprise Mavericks win as the team now prepares to face Golden State in Game 1 on Wednesday the Western Conference Finals: Certainly Phoenix understood the challenge it faced in pushing Doncic into an elimination situation. While you might think the Mavs Superstar guard's performance against the Suns was stunning, let's run through what the man does when he has his back against the wall in an elimination situation. Doncic was averaging 39.0 career points when facing elimination, and that's the highest pointing average in this scenario in NBA history (at least three games). Behind Doncic on this list of killers in elimination situations are Alex Groza (33.5 ppg), LeBron James (33.5), Michael Jordan (31.3) and Wilt Chamberlain (31.1). It was easy to tell that Doncic was on a mission from the start. He took Phoenix to 12 points in the first quarter on 5-for-7 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists, helping them take a 27-17 lead in the first frame thanks to a gorgeous series of step-back 3s, hard drives and feathery floaters. The wild thing is that the guard equaled the entire Phoenix team's scoring tally in the first half with his 27 points as Dallas amassed the largest halftime lead (57-27) in Game 7 history. And Spencer Dinwiddie only added to the 21-point beatdown in the first two quarters by drilling 4-on-5 from deep. "It's still kind of shocking," Dinwiddie said. “The Suns have been the best team in basketball all season. We went into the game confident. Doncic (27 points) and Dinwiddie (21) became the first teammates to each scorch 20 points or more in one half of a Game 7 since 1997, when the New York Knicks duo of Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston clinched the feat in the second half against the Miami Heat. Interestingly, outside of Doncic and Dinwiddie, the rest of the Mavs shot a combined 3-for-18 in the first half. With 2:40 left in the third quarter, the Mavericks had increased shooting to 53% from field and 50% from range on the run for an 85-47 lead. The Mavs finished the game on a 56.8% shot shot, with Doncic (35), Dinwiddie (30) and Jalen Brunson (24) scoring a combined 89 points. For context, consider that the Suns used 14 players overall to score just 90 points. Phoenix spoke openly ahead of Game 7 about taking on the pressure of such a significant game. The team acknowledged the gravity of the situation, with players pointing out that the Suns had worked so hard for just that during the regular season. Phoenix became only the third team in NBA history to win 64 regular-season games or more and not make the conference finals. In doing so, it joined the likes of the likes of the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs and the 2006-07 Mavericks. One can't help but notice the blatantly different approaches each team took to Game 7. It's also worth considering whether these competing methods played a role in the outcome of the competition. "As much effort as the situations and decisions may be, you have to accept them," Suns coach Monty Williams said before the game. Three years ago we were not in this situation. I'm thinking about how far we've come.” Dallas, meanwhile, sauntered into this pressure cooker of a situation with a more relaxed approach, feeling like he was playing house money. Interestingly, just before the game, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said he would consider the season "successful" if his team lost in Game 7. We're a young team and we've improved in many areas that people thought we couldn't get any better," he said. The season doesn't end if we lose today. It's just a start. I talked about this before Game 6. They never started winning championships.” The Suns went into Game 7 averaging 16.0 turnovers in that series, with the Mavericks averaging 20.3 points per game from those freebies. In fact, Phoenix had committed more than 17 turnovers in five straight games prior to Game 7. "[It's all about] just make the easy play," Williams said just before the game. We did that all year. Phoenix apparently lost that identity Sunday at the Footprint Center. The Suns improved in the turnover department, giving up just 12 points on the night Dallas converted to 15 points. But much of Phoenix's self-inflicted damage came in the first half (seven turnovers that Dallas converted to nine points) as the Mavs stacked jumpers like Jenga to build their big lead. The freebies only added to the problems already raised by Doncic and Dinwiddie's hot starts. By the end of the third quarter, the Suns had given up 10 turnovers that turned Dallas into 15 points, while the Mavericks had given away eight giveaways for a total of four points over that span for the home team. Dallas entered the competition averaging 10.2 turnovers, the second lowest of any team in the playoffs behind Toronto (10.0). The Mavs would end the game with 12 turnovers, which proved inconsequential on a night where the visitors would lead by as much as 46 points. It's probably hard for many to remember that Phoenix started the postseason with 50% or more hits in the first eight games before falling to under 50% from the bottom in the last four competitions leading up to Game 7 (45th - 45th). .2%). Certainly, the Sun's hope for recovery in this make-or-break conclusion to this series. In fact, Game 7 marked the first time this season that Phoenix had shot worse than 40% in consecutive games. In the first half alone, Phoenix blasted an alarming 10-for-41 off the floor and fell massively behind at the break. The Suns' star trio, consisting of Devin Booker, Paul and Deandre Ayton, have combined in the first two quarters to only shoot 1-for-15 (6 points). On the other hand, Doncic and Dinwiddie shot together in a smashing 16v22 over the same span. "You can have those nights during the regular season, and you have them here and there where your shot can't fall, and they hit every shot," said Booker, the 3-for-14 and 0-for-4 of the Depth to the end with 11 points. “They followed their game plan, snatched the ball well out of my hands and intercepted every action I was in. I'm not the person who goes out there and tries to shoot over eight people. I'll try to make the right game. We missed shots early. I missed the few open ones I got and that was it.” Phoenix banged shot after shot off the rim on the night as he hit 37.9% from the floor and 35.3% on 3-point attempts . A 12-time All-Star, Paul plans to continue his fruitless journey to earn his first NBA title. Paul turned 37 during that streak, but he pointed out immediately after Game 7 that the 2022-23 marathon will continue as he enters his 18th season. Paul posted a minus of 39 on Sunday, which is the worst plus-minus of his NBA career in the regular season or the playoffs. In the last four games of this series, the veteran averaged 9.4 points, 5.8 assists and 3.6 turnovers. Paul led Phoenix to the 2020-21 NBA Finals and the Suns fell behind. This time, the team faltered even earlier, leaving some questioning if the point guard missed his potential championship window. "They said that last year, probably back in '08," Paul said. “[If] you play long enough and don't win, every time you lose, they'll say it was your best bet. I think for me and us we will be there again next year. The Game 7 result marked the fourth time in franchise history that the Suns had lost a 2-0 series lead, and it marks the fifth time in Paul's career that this has happened to him. While we delve into futures, pay close attention to what's playing out in Phoenix this offseason with upcoming restricted free-agent center Deandre Ayton, who will be eligible to re-sign with the Suns for big money. Ayton played a total of 17 minutes in the deciding Game 7 and ended up with just 5 points. Williams was asked why Ayton only played limited minutes in such a crucial competition.

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Was Sun's Game 7 loss to Mavericks the worst disappointment in Arizona sports? Here is the competition

Was the Suns' Game 7 wipeout against the Mavericks the worst ever in Arizona sports history? Here is the contest for that shame. (Author: Gardener)

ArizonaYou're tired, you're bloated from Sunday's pre-game celebrations and your brain is still trying to unpack the Suns' devastating home loss to the Dallas Mavericks. If you've been a longtime Suns fan, you know that disappointment in the playoffs is woven into the fabric of the organization. But Sunday's defeat took the embarrassment to a new level. Was it the worst in the history of the sport in Arizona? MOORE: The Suns' loss in Game 7 was so bad it sullied the legacy of everyone involved. 1981: The 1-seeded Suns lost 4 games to 3 to the 5-seeded Kansas City Kings in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. It was kind of obscured by history, partly because of the Suns' much more bizarre playoff exits that were to follow, but also because the 1981 postseason was just plain weird, with the 40-42 Houston Rockets emerging as Western Conference champions. Interesting side note: The coach of this Kings team was Cotton Fitzsimmons, who had two stints as coach of the Suns. 1993: The University of Arizona men's basketball team, No. 2 in the West Regional, lost to Steve Nash's unranked and 15th-seeded Santa Clara Broncos 64-61 to open the NCAA tournament. It's hard to emphasize how shocking an upset was back then - it was only the second time a 15th-place team had won a game since the tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They ended the season with the second-best record in the Landesliga. Arizona Diamondbacks Luis Gonzalez is escorted off the field by coach Dave Edwards after dislodging his shoulder in a collision with teammates during the game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, Sept. Gonzalez will miss the rest of the season and the playoffs with a shoulder injury. However, a black cat walked in the Diamondbacks' paths in the form of a severed shoulder suffered in September by All-Star left fielder Luis Gonzalez, the 2001 World Series hero who led Arizona with 28 home runs and 103 RBIs. He missed the rest of the season and the playoffs. His absence from the lineup alone didn't seal the team's fate, but when the Diamondbacks and Johnson were defeated 12-1 in Game 1 of the Division Series against St. Louis, the die seemed to be cast — and the Diamondbacks were swept in three straight . 2007: As previously mentioned, many Suns seasons ended earlier than expected, not to mention two NBA Finals losses (to this point on our timeline), which include some of the best moments in league playoff history. But there are few memories more bitter for Suns fans than what transpired against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 Western Conference Finals. The Suns suffered a loss in the Conference Finals last year and branded the 2006-07 season as "Eyes on the Prize." They won 61 regular-season games, one under the franchise record at the time, and returned to the Conference Finals ready to take the next step. San Antonio Spurs' Robert Horry checked Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash in the hip during a 2007 playoff game. Trailing 2-1 in San Antonio, the Suns actually won Game 4 to end the series, but rarely has there been a more costly victory in Arizona sports history. During the game, Spurs' Robert Horry essentially checked Nash on the scorer list and a brief scuffle ensued. Hurt, angry and distracted, the Suns collapsed at home late in Game 5. They made a valiant second-half comeback attempt in Game 6 in San Antonio but failed. To this day, the players and coaches of that Suns team feel that there was not "an element of fairness or common sense," as coach Mike D'Antoni put it at the time, in the NBA's decision. 2009: In the pantheon of heartbreak, Super Bowl losses have their own special place in history. And while the Arizona Cardinals were obviously thrilled to reach their first Super Bowl in February 2009, the way the game played out clearly places this loss on Arizona's list of disappointments in sports. And that even means those Cardinals were only 9-7 during the regular season and took a big break when the 6th-seeded Philadelphia Eagles overturned the top-seeded New York Giants and allowed the Cardinals to win the NFC championship game to play at home . After sending the Eagles 32-25 to reach the Super Bowl, the Cardinals drew as opponents the Pittsburgh Steelers and their five previous Super Bowl titles. The Cardinals fell 20-7 but then went on to score 16 straight points and take the lead with Kurt Warner's 64-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The Steelers got the ball back with 2:37 left and two timeouts, and that was ample time for Ben Roethlisberger to first hit Santonio Holmes with a 40-yard pass to the Arizona 6, then two games later Holmes in the Finding a back corner of the end zone for what turned out to be a win - although to this day you can't find a Cardinals fan who thinks Holmes was inbounds with both feet when he made the catch. 2016: The Cardinals had another excellent shot at reaching a Super Bowl after posting a 13-3 record that was the second-best in the entire NFL that season. They went into the NFC Championship game full of confidence, driving high after an amazing 26-20 win in overtime in their first playoff game this postseason against the Green Bay Packers, which has been on many's list of the best games in postseason history people stand. Unfortunately, the balloon burst early in the conference title game at No. 1 Carolina. The Panthers scored the first 17 points, the Cardinals turned over 7 times and the final score was an ugly 49-15. This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Was the Suns' Game 7 loss to Mavericks the worst disappointment in Arizona sports?

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The Mavs are going to the NBA West Finals against the Warriors

As the 2021-2022 season progresses, keep up with all the Dallas Mavericks news with our DallasBasketball.com NBA tracker here. (Author: Gardener)

MavsThe Dallas Mavericks have been linked to a number of different players in the league in NBA trade rumors and speculation, including Detroit Pistons' Jerami Grant, Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner, Atlanta Hawks' John Collins and more. And then there's the NBA Playoffs and so much more to cover. Here at DallasBasketball.com, we'll be keeping you updated on all Mavs-related trade rumours, reports and speculation as the off-season approaches. The Golden State Warriors meet the Mavs in the 2022 Western Conference Finals, which begins Wednesday in the Bay Area. The Mavericks were able to hit the streets in Game 7 to sink the No. 1 seed Suns -- in all-time blowout fashion, 123-90. "That," said Luka, who, like Dirk before him, shouldn't be mocked, "was incredible." How do Golden State and Dallas fit together? So no, not many prefer the Mavs. But worth noting: Dallas' record this year against the others in the last four is 6-2. And after how they just dissected the top-studded Suns? Coach Jason Kidd said: "A lot of people were saying this was going to be a blast. "I trust my boys," said coach Jason Kidd ahead of Sunday's seventh game of Round 2 of the NBA playoffs, just before the tip in Phoenix. The previous coach took time out in a 2-0 run or a 4-0 run. I want my guys to do that and this (game) is no different.” Yes, that's a gentle stab at Rick Carlisle's leadership style. Mavs fans are hoping Kidd's style works today (see our playoff coverage here). as Carlisle did a little over a decade ago. By the way: This is not a sign of hostility; Carlisle recommended Kidd as his replacement. It's actually pretty factual how Rick kept his hands on the wheel, even when Kidd was his championship point guard. The Dallas Mavericks are currently in a hard-fought battle with league-best Phoenix Suns as their Western Conference semifinals series ended 2-2 is a tie and the deciding Game 5 takes place on Tuesday night when the two teams meet at the Footprint Center Suns coach Monty Williams will be presented with a brand new trophy. On Monday, according to multiple sources, Williams won the NBA Coach of the Year award after his Suns with A league-high 64 wins had taken the Suns to a 51-31 record and t Second in the West last season, many thought Williams would win COTY. Surprisingly, New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau won the award despite his team winning 10 games fewer and trailing two seeds in the East standings. Although Mavs coach Jason Kidd has always come a long way from winning COTY, his adjustments in Games 3 and 4 against the Williams Suns show why he deserves at least some attention. MAY 6 NBA IS 'WRONG' The Dallas Mavericks were fined $25,000 by the NBA. The announcement comes Friday because bench players and coaches went too far on the court in a Game 2 loss to Phoenix in the Western Conference Semifinals. Coach Jason Kidd criticized the decision before Game 3 in Dallas. "That's cool," he said sarcastically, not in the mood to fool around with Phoenix in the 2-0 series. "The league is looking at the wrong things." MAY 5 COOL HAND LUKA, HOT DRAYMOND The NBA announced Thursday it has fined the Warriors' Draymond Green $25,000 for tricking fans in Memphis during Tuesday's Western Conference playoff game had. When the Golden State forward entered the locker room in the first quarter Tuesday night to get stitches on his right eye, he held up two middle fingers in response to the boos from the fans, "Turn it off," Green said. Great, I deserve 25 Millions of dollars a year The NBA playoffs are physical, just ask the Dallas Mavs' Luka Doncic, who is averaging 40 points a game against the Suns, who are 2-0 up, meanwhile trying to slam Doncic who - despite his reputation arguing with the refs - responsible for being Cool Hand Luka when it comes to Ts in Game 6 on hands of Luka Doncic and the Mavs "I love honey so I've always wanted to have my own" , Gobert said, explaining why he has his own beehive at his house, and that his bees have been "a bit upset" ever since. Next, Rudy takes on Luka Doncic and the Mavs. Get all the good stuff about the series and Game 6 here.

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