GAME 6: PHOENIX SUNS (3-2) at DALLAS MAVERICKS (2-3)
Time: 8:30 p.m., Thursday.
Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas.
Radio: The Eagle 97.1 FM; Univision Zona MX 99.1 FM (Spanish)
About the Suns: They are 3-0 at home and 0-2 at AAC. Chris Paul had particular problems last weekend in the two games in Dallas. He had seven turnovers in Game 3 and fouled out in 23 minutes in Game 4, scoring one less point than the six fouls he accumulated . . . The Suns were in the NBA finals last season, so they know how hard it is to close out a series, particularly on the road. But they are coming off a massive showing in Game 5. Devin Booker had 28 points in the 30-point win and appeared to be on a mission. Paul had 10 assists and the underrated player of Game 5 was Mikal Bridges with 14 points and seven rebounds – and the biggest stat of them all: the Suns were plus 23 when he was on the floor . . . The Suns will have to show that they can handle the road in this series if they want to avoid Game 7. They were shut down offensively in Games 3 and 4, averaging just 97.5 points per game. That’s 22.5 points less than they have averaged in their three home wins. The Mavericks clearly play better defense with the crowd urging them on . . . Bismack Biyombo has played an increasingly larger role off the bench as the series has progressed, largely because JaVale McGee has been ineffective most of the time. Biyombo had seven points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes on Tuesday before getting ejected in a tussle with Marquese Chriss. The league was reviewing that incident on Wednesday . . . Landry Shamet and Biyombo have taken the place of Cameron Payne and McGee in the Suns’ rotation, for the moment.
About the Mavericks: They have reached do-or-die time. They are down 3-2 and have no room for error. Win Thursday night or their season is history. They own an all-time record of 17-22 (43.6 percent) in elimination games, having dropped their most recent four. On the plus side, they are 4-1 in the playoffs at home this season, including 4-0 since losing the opener of the Utah series in the first round . . . Yes, it’s already been ruled a success by making it to the second round. But that doesn’t mean the Mavericks don’t have desires to keep on playing. It’s a tough challenge going up against the Suns, who had the best record in the NBA by a long ways in the regular season . . . Luka Dončić continues to be perhaps the best player anywhere still participating in the playoffs after his 28 points and 11 rebounds in Game 5. He’s averaging 32 points in this series, even though he has not shot the 3-ball well in the past two games (3-for-18) . . . The bench struggled in Game 5, other than Davis Bertans, who hit 3-of-4 3-pointers and had 10 points. The rest of the backups had just 13 points and shot 3-for-16, albeit with a lot of that coming in garbage time . . . Reggie Bullock appeared to suffer a leg injury early in the fourth quarter and limped off the floor, but he is not listed on the injury report . . . Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell all started and contributed a combined eight points, eight rebounds and 2-for-11 shooting. Bullock and Powell did not score.
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