Surely by now you’ve heard the ubiquitous statistic that looms over all Game 7s: The home team wins 80 percent of the time. That’s fairly distressing for the Dallas Mavericks, because in their second-round series against the Phoenix Suns, home team has won 100 percent of the contests played thus far. The Suns took the first two at home. Dallas roared back to tie the series at two. Each team won the next battle on their own floor.
now? It’s winner-take-all. If the Suns protect their home court, they’ll head back to the Western Conference finals for the second consecutive season. If Dallas breaks the trend? The Mavs will get there for the first time since 2011. Winner faces the Golden State Warriors. Loser has a long and bitter offseason awaiting them. Here’s how you can tune into Game 7 between the Suns and Mavericks.
(1) Phoenix Suns vs. (4) Dallas Mavericks
- When: Sunday, May 15 | 8:00 p.m. ET
- Where: Footprint Center — Phoenix, Arizona
- TV: TNT | livestream: TNT App
- odds: DAL +240; PHO-300; O/U 205 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Mavericks: There’s an element of found money to this situation for the Mavericks. Luka Doncic is just 23 years old. He hadn’t won a playoff series before this season. If he doesn’t make the conference finals now, there’s a good chance he does in the fairly near future. Of course, Doncic isn’t judged on the same scale that other players are. He’s not even on the pace of a typical Hall of Fame. No, Doncic is in rarefied air already, and it’s hard to watch his fourth-year dominance and not compare it to LeBron James in the 2007 playoffs. James made it all the way to the Finals back then, taking down a heavily favored No. 1-seed Pistons team in the process. Why can’t Doncic do the same?
Suns: This isn’t found money for the Suns. In fact, it might be their last, best chance at winning the whole thing. Chris Paul is 37, and he’s averaging just 9.5 points per game in the four games since his birthday. DeAndre Ayton is set for restricted free agency, and after contentious negotiations last offseason in which the Suns refused to pay him the max, there’s no guarantee that he’s back next season. The Clippers and Nuggets will both be back to full strength next season, and both will be eager for revenge after the Suns handed their depleted rosters playoff losses a season ago. Championship windows are fleeting. The Suns had one last season. They have one now. They might not have one again next season.
There’s a reason home teams have dominated this series. It’s one extremely reliant on role-player shooting. Dallas wins when Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith make shots. Phoenix wins when Jae Crowder and Cam Johnson make shots. Role players tend to make more shots at home. That tendency amplifies in Game 7s when the pressure is dialed up to maximum. Dallas has done an admirable job of extending the series this far, but Phoenix should control Game 7. The pick: Suns -6.5