After struggling through the first round, the Sun’s opponent in the second round is out. The Sun Mavericks showdown that fans were talking about more than ten years ago will be staged. The Sun’s goal is naturally to pass this level and continue to move towards the championship. The feeling of playing against each other will be greater than the actual intensity of competition on the field.
As the leader of the league, the Suns did not play easily in the first round of the playoffs. Devin Booker missed most of the series after suffering an injury in the second half of the second game. The second is the Pelicans’ aggressive rebounding by relying on their dominant formation. , Pelicans head coach Willie Green, who has a lot of origins with the Sun, has repeatedly taken the initiative to challenge the Suns, which have a more rigid formation after Booker’s injury, and Chris Paul’s Scott Foster curse is the fourth. In short, it ended in the first round, although the sun still It’s the winner, but it’s probably the Pelicans that get more positive reviews.
However, for the Suns, no matter what the content is, it is still the party that actually won four wins and continues to move forward. This season of writing the best record in team history and winning home-court advantage throughout the playoffs as the league leader can continue. , working hard to challenge the unfinished championship dream of last season.
Entering the second round, the Suns face a very interesting opponent. It will be the Mavericks who returned to the second round of the playoffs after 11 years of default. The Mavericks last reached the second round in 2011. In 2010, they went all the way to win the first championship in team history. The last time the Mavericks and the Suns played against each other was in the 2006 Western Conference Championship. In that year, two friends, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, led their teams to go out. The Suns were both out due to injuries in the two main restricted areas. The Chinese team has a similar height in the frontcourt. It launched a five-line lineup 14 years earlier than the Rockets in 2020. In the end, they lost to Nowitzki’s 50-point masterpiece and Josh Howard, who is like a perfect second master. Nowitzki and Josh Howard are left in the memory of fans. Nash’s lovely (mis) deep embrace.
During the era when both the Suns and the Mavericks were at their peak, Nash and Nowitzki hosted three annual MVPs, and the Suns, Mavericks and Horses fought for three years, while Nash and Nowitzki each served as the leading ace of the Suns and Mavericks. These days, it is almost in the era of the surge in fans of the two teams in Taiwan. Both teams have experienced ups and downs in the past ten years, so they also won high-level draft picks in 2018, and Deandre Ayton and Luka, who were also selected in the same year. Doncic, now each burdened with the expectation of each other’s return to glory, Ayton may just be an assistant next to Devin Booker and Chris Paul in the backcourt, and Doncic is already the young owner of the Mavericks.
In any case, for fans who have been through the last wave of the two teams, or the Nash and Nowitzki era, seeing the two teams meet again in the playoffs is bound to be a lot of emotions.
The Suns beat the Pelicans 4-2 in the first round
In the first half of Game 1 and Game 2, you can see that the Pelicans are very active in challenging the penalty area of the Suns, and the Suns, as mentioned in the pre-game analysis, will make the original 3-pointer crosshairs when they do not come out. The expected rebounding disadvantage is even more exaggerated, but with CP3 and Booker’s two main firepower, the Suns can still gain an advantage over the Pelicans. Booker even scored 31 points in the first half of Game 2, with one hand covering the sky. Help CP3 break through the momentum of Foster’s curse.
Then Booker was injured, and the Suns have been in a tough fight since then, because they lacked a major firepower that almost guaranteed to give you more than 25 points in the playoffs. Even CP3 sold his life and Ayton tried hard to challenge the Pelicans. When the group failed to fire, it was no easy task to counterattack, and the Pelicans had just made two consecutive rounds in the play-offs, and their momentum was booming, and they did not stop attacking the Suns defense.
But in the end, the Suns are still the winning side. The huge margin of 28 games between the two teams in the regular season is still separated between the two teams. Finally, CP3 ruthlessly closed the door with a 100% hit rate. Didn’t give the Pelicans any chance.
In the aforementioned era when the Suns and the Mavericks were the powerhouses in the West, both teams used to be very good at high-speed operations. In the 2005-06 season, the Mavericks were coached by Avery Johnson, which reversed the speed of the Don Nelson era and changed to The rhythm of the slow Lang set out. However, in this year’s matchup, it is conceivable that the Suns and the Mavericks will likely continue to focus on offense and defense in the half court, with a slow-paced fight as the basis.
This season, the Mavericks are the team with the slowest offensive pace in the league. Although the Suns are in the front row of the Pace Factor, in the last round against the Pelicans, they slowed down the pace of the game in the face of the Pelicans, and the Suns also had the courage to play at a slow pace. In the final battle, the Pace Factor of the entire series after six games was 92.7, the fastest Game 2 was only 96.3, and the slowest Game 1 was even only 89.8, and the Mavericks had the lowest Pace Factor in this season’s regular season, but also But 95.4, that is to say, the Suns were playing at a slower pace than the slowest team in the league throughout the first round. The Mavericks’ Pace Factor in the first round was as low as 90.6. It is conceivable that a slow pace will still be the pace they seek, but if the Mavericks also want to slow down the pace like the Pelicans, the Suns will obviously not be afraid.
The main reason why the Suns are not afraid of the slow pace at all is naturally CP3, which has repeatedly existed in the last round. In the playoffs of these two seasons, as long as the body is healthy, or the opponent has no unsolvable plug-ins, CP3 has never let the rhythm be dragged by the opponent. Go, and judging from the rotation of the Mavericks in the playoffs, there is no sacrificial role like Jose Alvarado of the Pelicans who only wants to interfere with CP3. As long as the game continues to be dealt with in the regular war, CP3 and the returning Booker will definitely Don’t let the sun go down.
2018 Ladder’s Top Showdown
The 2018 lottery draft is regarded as a team with a high return on investment in recent years. The aforementioned Suns and Mavericks each took away young people who are now shouldering heavy responsibilities in the team from this year. The Hawks traded the third overall pick to take away Doncic. Doncic is undoubtedly one of the NBA’s cricket stars in recent years, but in the past two years he has made the playoffs and lost to the Clippers in the first round. In contrast, Ayton only challenged the playoffs for the first time last season. The Suns made it all the way to the championship game, handing over outstanding results in the proportion of the game, including the winning dunk in Game 2 of the Western Championship, and the momentum rose.
With Doncic and Trae Young unlikely to meet in the playoffs any time soon, this second round of the Western Conference will be the first time these 2018 Ladder lottery draft picks who are already worth their weight in rookie contracts will face off in the playoffs. Of course, it seems that it is difficult for Ayton to become the leading ace in a short period of time. The status of Ayton cannot be compared with that of Doncic, but since joining the NBA, Ayton and Doncic have won a lot of games against each other. The teams played against each other, but as long as they could play at the same time, Ayton had an absolute advantage of 8 wins and 1 loss.
Of course, we can imagine that in the main meeting, Doncic was handed over to Mikal Bridges, the number one defense on the outside of the Suns, and Ayton did not perform particularly well against the Mavericks every time. In these 9 games against Doncic, he had 3 The points per game are only single digits, with an average of 13.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and a shooting percentage of 0.505. In fact, they are all worse than his career performance, but it can be seen from the content of the game that Ayton, who has never received too many positive comments on the defensive end in many discussions in his career , He is very positive when it comes to Doncic, and it is not easy to be named by Doncic even when placing one-on-one orders. Maybe this is really because he shows different levels of enthusiasm against different opponents. If he really thinks so, I Personally, I don’t agree with his mentality of picking opponents, but since now we are going to play the entire series with the Mavericks with real guns, Ayton, who will become more active, is also good news for the Suns.
Villanova Alumni Meet
In the first round of this year’s playoffs, the Suns and the Mavericks each had a person who was not the team’s top two stars in the past. The Suns are Bridges, who has been greatly affirmed on the defensive end this season and has a significant effect on C.J. McCollum in the first round. On the Mavericks’ side is point guard Jalen Brunson, who showed his prowess last season and has more time as a starter this season. Bridges averaged 17.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 hot pot in the first round, and the shooting percentage was a beautiful 0.551/0.533/0.909, including a playoff career-high 31 points in the fifth game. With Doncic out for three games, Brunson averaged 27.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists, including 41 points on 60 percent shooting in Game 2, and played 38 minutes per game. Brunson had only four turnovers total in six games.
In addition to performing better in the playoffs this season and even delivering the best results of their careers, Bridges and Brunson have three things in common. The first is that they both came from the 2018 draft, and Bridges was selected with the 10th overall pick. Brunson was the 33rd overall pick in the second round. The second is that they are all from Villanova University. They also entered the school in 2015 for three years, and followed the school to win two NCAA championships in 2016 and 2018. The third is that they are both Virgos, and their birthdays are only one day away. Therefore, the two have had a very deep friendship since their college days. They are also solid players that college coach Jay Wright can trust and can use professionally.
The two have a close personal relationship and often use social media to interact in private. For example, after they joined the NBA, Brunson once shared on Twitter a video of his junior guard Bryan Antoine cutting a dunk, and said, It reminds me of young men. Me, Bridges replied but you can hardly dunk, and Brunson, not to be outdone, also responded, You were the 10th pick and were expected to be a defensive lock, but you couldn’t hold me at all and so on.
Bridges and Brunson may not have too many opportunities to face each other on the court, but both will have some roles in this series. The Suns can beat the Pelicans in the last round to a certain extent because the Pelicans team’s ability to sort out the rhythm is really good. CP3 is too bad, but Brunson has emerged in the past two years, allowing the Mavs to have a stable rhythm even when Doncic is not on the court. Aside from the need to keep an eye on Doncic, the Mavs’ 5-out formation from time to time will allow the Suns to deal with all kinds of switching defenses, and how much Bridges, the omnipresent defensive end, can interfere with the Mavericks this season is also critical to the Suns’ performance.
A decisive three-pointer?
The Suns only made 11.6 3-pointers per game this season, ranking 20th in the league, and the Mavericks ranked 10th with 13.1. In contrast, the Mavericks rely on 3-pointers more, but not as a primary means. , but from the perspective of the first round of the playoffs, it is not too much to say that the two teams will decide between the three-point line.
It can be seen in the first round of the Suns that as long as the Green Leafs do not shoot from beyond the three-point line and allow the opponent to arrange the defensive heavy force near the elbow, it will not only limit the pick-and-roll cooperation between CP3 and Ayton, but also hinder the Bridges this season. With a slightly effective mid-range attack, the Suns made only 0.319 three-pointers in the entire series, and Game 3 and Game 4 were even in the early 20s. Even against the Pelicans, which ranked ninth in the Western Division in the regular season, the Suns still managed to beat the game. went through a whole series of hardships.
In the first round, the Mavericks were a big hit on the outside. In six games against the Jazz, the Mavericks scored a total of 93 three-pointers, the most among the 16 teams in the playoffs. The two-man Jazz, after a mid-season trade, the Mavericks’ 5-out formation has become active for a long time. Almost everyone in the rotation except Dwight Powell can cut the perimeter. More than half of the shots in the first round were three. Pointing the ball, we can see how much they rely on the three-pointer.
And in the regular season, the Mavericks are one of the league’s best defense 3-pointers. They only allow their opponents to make 10.9 3-pointers per game, which is the lowest in the league, and their opponent’s 3-point percentage of 0.340 is the fourth-lowest. , but the sun is also unambiguous, ranking fourth and fifth in the league in these two data, which means that both teams can defend the opponent’s three-pointers, and both teams are considered to need three-pointers in the face of the attack. What kind of performance will be the key to this series.
Normally, Booker, who has played in the past two years is almost equal to the Suns’ stable source of firepower. Question, we also need to see how the Booker is in the end.
According to the news from the sun, Booker was expected to rest for 2 to 3 weeks, but he only took 9 days before and after, and started in the sixth game. It is true that the hamstring strain can be big or small, and Booker did not have it at the time of his injury. Staggered, but can go off the court by himself. There are reasons for optimism about the injury. The Suns fought in the first round, and there is a background for Booker to return to the team early to close the door, but whether the 9 days of recuperation is really enough, and whether the current Booker is 100% healthy, absolutely Will be critical to the future of the Suns playoffs.
Booker played 32 minutes in Game 6 of the first round. Compared with the 40-plus minutes in last year’s playoffs, Booker’s 13 points were an understatement. His offensive contribution is still significant. At the end of the game, he also made a key forward three-pointer. Naturally, the Suns’ goal is not only the second round, but in the face of the battlefield after the Western Championship, Booker will be needed to ensure that he is in the best condition.
process and goals
It is conceivable that for the Suns, who had already entered the championship game last season and became the leader of the league this season, the second round of the Western Conference is just a process. With the situation of the games in recent years, if the Suns stop here, it will definitely be regarded as unpopular and not in line with the team’s expectations. the result of. But for the Mavericks, who finally passed the first round of the playoffs in the Doncic era, the second round of the playoffs is not a disappointing ending for a team that has only undergone a major change in player trading in the middle of the season.
It is also because of the Mavericks’ mid-season trade that changed the lineup, especially Spencer Dinwiddie, who was reborn in the Mavericks and became Doncic’s right-hand man. Although Dinwiddie did not perform well in the first round and was completely overtaken by Brunson, his strength should be Not anyone in the Suns’ second lineup can be compared, and because the Suns played against the Mavericks three times this season before Dinwiddie joined the Mavericks, the content of the three regular season matches may not have much reference value.
Just looking at the current formation, the players’ past performance in the playoffs, and each other’s strengths and weaknesses, even if the Suns may not be able to block Doncic, who has been like a stat monster in the playoffs in the past two years, it is still necessary to beat the Mavericks with team power. It won’t be too difficult, and if there aren’t too many surprises, the Suns should seek a quick fix within five games and get ready to wait for their opponents in the Western Conference Championship.
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