Suns vs. Mavericks score, takeaways: Chris Paul, Devin Booker help Phoenix to 2-0 series lead in Game 2 win

Suns vs. Mavericks score, takeaways: Chris Paul, Devin Booker help Phoenix to 2-0 series lead in Game 2 win

The Phoenix Suns have certainly looked the part of the Western Conference’s top seed in their semifinal matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, and the latest example of that came in Game 2 on Wednesday night as the Suns ran away with a 129-109 win to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. What started out as a back-and-forth game with the Mavericks holding a two-point lead heading into halftime, quickly got out of hands in the fourth quarter as Chris Paul took over and put the game away for Phoenix.

Paul finished the game with 28 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Booker tacked on 30 points in the win. Four of Phoenix’s five starters finished the game in double digits, as the Suns managed to blow open a game where Deandre Ayton played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble. 

Luka Doncic once again put on a show for the Mavericks, finishing with 35 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. Reggie Bullock added on 16 points of his own to help in the loss, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a tough Suns defense. 

The series now shifts to Dallas, where Game 3 will take place on Friday. Here are three takeaways from Game 2. 

1. A master class from Chris Paul

Wednesday night was the perfect reminder to never take Paul’s first-half stats too seriously. With the Mavericks holding a 60-58 lead, Paul had just eight points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field. It was a quiet half from the undisputed Point God, but it turns out that it was just the quiet before the storm for Paul and the Suns. 

After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Suns got to work in the final 12 minutes of the game, led by the sterling work from Paul, who racked up 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. Paul was getting whatever he wanted in the fourth quarter, and he did so primarily while hunting Doncic on matchups. He feasted on the superstar guard’s so-so defense, showing off his patented mid-range game. 

What’s crazy is you would think Doncic would be able to stay in front of the grizzled veteran guard, but Paul — who looked like he was moving at half speed while he went to work — caught Doncic on his hip every time he drove to the rim and just kept racking up points. You would also think that the Mavericks would try anything to slow Paul down, like trying to trap him and force the ball out of his hands, but instead it was the CP3 show and he delivered every time he touched the ball in the fourth quarter. 

By the time Paul checked out with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Suns worked up a 17-point lead and the 36-year-old guard could comfortably sit back on the bench knowing his team had secured the win. That’s how dominant Phoenix was in the fourth because of Paul. 

2. Dallas struggled to stay out of foul trouble…again

In Game 1, it was Brunson and Bullock who picked up costly early fouls for the Mavericks to limit their production in the first half. Tonight, it was Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas’ best defender, who had three fouls in the first half. On the bright side, the Mavericks managed to get great production out of Davis Bertans who caught fire in the first half from long range, putting up nine points on 3-of-6 from deep. Losing Finney-Smith for most of the first half wasn’t as detrimental to Dallas as it could’ve been, given it led by two points after 24 minutes. 

However, the fouling wasn’t limited to just the first half. Brunson finished the game with four fouls, Dwight Powell had five and Finney-Smith had four. It resulted in Dallas not being able to be as aggressive as it wanted to on defense in the second half, which resulted in 28 points in the paint for the Suns after halftime. The fouls to key players like Finney-Smith and Brunson also took away their production on the offensive side of the ball as well. Finney-Smith, who shot 39.5 percent from deep in the first round against Utah while averaging 13.2 points per game, finished the game with just two points on two shot attempts. He’s a crucial piece to what Dallas does on offense, primarily as a corner-3 specialist who benefits from assists from Doncic and Brunson. 

Speaking of Brunson, he finished the game a minus-22, while putting up just nine points and shooting 25 percent from the field. It’s the second-straight game Brunson has struggled against this stingy Suns defense, and his inability to get going on offense has greatly hindered the Mavericks. Couple that with the fact that Dinwiddie has reverted back to his inefficient ways from his previous stint in Washington D.C. throughout the playoffs, and the Mavericks aren’t getting a ton of production from anyone outside of Doncic. 

A lot of that is credit to the stellar perimeter defense Phoenix employs, followed by legit rim protection from Ayton and JaVale McGee. But still, the Mavericks are going to need to figure out how to put points on the board consistently, otherwise this will be a quick series for them.    

3. Does this series make it back to Phoenix?

The series now shifts back to Dallas with the Suns holding a 2-0 lead and showing no signs of slowing down. The Mavericks have shown flashes of being able to contend with this team, specifically in the final few minutes of Game 1 where they tried to storm back, and in the first half of Game 2 where they looked like they could’ve won this game. 

However, the Suns aren’t a team that you can afford to make a ton of mistakes against, and there’s going to be little room for error heading into Game 3 on Friday. Some adjustments the Mavericks can make are working harder to fight over screens so that Doncic isn’t caught in the crosshairs every trip down the floor. If Paul and Booker are able to hunt Doncic every single time, then this series will be over in a hurry.

On offense, Dallas simply needs more out of Brunson and Dinwiddie. Bullock did all he could in Game 2 to help Doncic on offense, especially in the third quarter when he rattled off three straight 3-pointers, but Dallas can’t afford to have Brunson have another stinker night where he finishes with just nine points. Part of that is because he’s picking up senseless fouls when he’s thrown into switches and getting tasked with guarding Ayton, but the Suns are going to continue to switch him and bait him into fouls, so he needs to ensure that he can at least produce on the other end.

If the Mavericks can’t figure it out when they host the next two games at the American Airlines Center, then there won’t be any need to make travel arrangements back to Phoenix for a Game 5 or beyond. 

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