“I don’t know if we have arrived the way you guys will write it,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’re still learning each other (and) we’re still finding ways to get better.”
The Mavs learned a lot about themselves Sunday when they went into Phoenix and totally destroyed the best team in the NBA, 123-90, in a Game 7 for the ages. The 33-point differential tied for the fifth largest loss in Game 7 history.
And truth be told, the game wasn’t even that close.
The Mavs led the Suns, 92-50, after the third quarter and by as much as 46 points (111-65) in the fourth quarter. And Luka Doncic, who is like a kid in a candy store when it comes to elimination games, didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.
In addition, the Mavs’ 33-point beatdown was the largest Game 7 victory on the road since 1948 when the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the St. Louis Bombers, 85-46, on April 6, 1948.
That’s how dominant of a performance it was by the Mavs, who cracked the code and won four of the last five games in the series against the Suns.
This also was the Mavs’ first win in Phoenix since Nov. 29, 2019, snapping an eight-game losing streak in games played in the valley of the sun.
Suns point guard Chris Paul — the so-called point god – managed to age before everyone’s eyes in the last five games when he collected just 18 field goals to go with 18 turnovers after he turned 37 years old on May 6.
Paul, in fact, had a plus/minus of minus 39 in Game 7. That’s the worst plus/minus in the 1,297 career NBA games he’s played. Plus, he’s also 0-5 all-time when his team had a 2-0 lead in a series.
“I know that’s probably the most popular opinion is fatigue,” said guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored a career playoff high 30 points in Game 7. “I can’t really speak for CP. He’s one of the greatest point guards of all time.
“The numbers are the numbers. Yes, his production did fall off and it was a key for us getting to winning this series.”
Now with the Suns in their rearview mirror, the Mavs will turn their undivided attention to the highly-regarded Golden State Warriors.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals series between the Mavs and Warriors is Wednesday in San Francisco at 8 p.m. Game 2 will also be in San Francisco on Friday at 8 p.m. before the series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on Sunday at 8 p.m. and Game 4 on May 24 at 8 p.m.
If necessary, Game 5 will be May 26 in San Francisco at 8 p.m., Game 6 in Dallas on May 28 at 8 p.m. and Game 7 in San Francisco on May 30 at 7 p.m.
After dismantling the Suns, Doncic revealed how close-knit of a team the Mavs have. And how everyone is pulling for each other’s success, even if that means another player’s minutes will be decreased.
“I always say this team is special, the way we bond together, the way we play,” said Doncic, who contributed 35 points, 10 rebounds and two steals in Sunday’s close out game. “When we play hard defensively it’s tough to stop us.
“I thought after the first two games here our defense improved really well, and that’s what won us the game.”
Doncic grew tired of the constant chirping coming from the Suns, then set out to burn them in the best way possible.
“For me, so much trash talking gets me going,” he said. “It’s another motivational stuff. It gets us going.
“Everybody was talking about it. Even before Game 1, nobody picked us (to win the series), so it was motivational for us.”
BRING ON THE WARRIORS: After reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011, the Mavs are more than ready to take on the Golden State Warriors.
“Obviously, they’re one of the most historic teams of all-time,” guard Spencer Dinwiddie said. “Their nucleus is still intact.
“Jordan Poole has been playing amazing, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
The Mavs were 3-1 against the Warriors this season. A deep dive into those games show that Warriors forward Draymond Green missed three of those contests with injuries, including two of the Mavs’ wins and the Warriors’ lone victory.
In those four games, Luka Doncic averaged 31.5 points, nine rebounds and 5.5 assists, and shot 47.6 percent from the field (39-of-82), 38.2 percent from three-point land (13-of-34) and 87.5 percent from the charity stripe (35-of-40).
But since the Warriors won three NBA titles in 2015, ’17 and ’18, the Mavs know they’ll have their hands full trying to slow down Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Green.
“We’re playing a very special team in the Warriors when you talk about dynasties and one of the best coaches to ever do it (in Steve Kerr),” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ll celebrate this (Game 7 win over the Suns), enjoy this, then we’ll close the book and get ready for Golden State.”
BRIEFLY: Mavs forward Reggie Bullock is one of five finalists for the 2022 Kareen Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award, the NBA announced Monday. The other four finalists are Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Toronto’s Fred VanVleet. A news release stated that this annual award recognizes a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged. The winner will be announced during the Western Conference Finals and will receive $100,000 to go toward a social justice organization of his choosing. The other four finalists will each receive $25,000 for their organization of choice . . . Luka Doncic scored 27 points in the first half Sunday — and so did the Suns. Doncic is the only player in the last 25 postseasons to match the opposing team’s point total in a half. . .Spencer Dinwiddie tallied 21 of his 30 points in the first half Sunday. Doncic and Dinwiddie are the first teammates to score 20 or more points in a half in a Game 7 since Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston of the New York Knicks did it to the Miami Heat in the second half of a Game 7 in 1997.