Suns vs. Mavericks Game 6 Preview: Will CP3 & Phoenix Close the Series?

Kenny Ducey breaks down how to bet Thursday's closeout Game 6 between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks.

Suns vs. Mavericks Odds

Suns Odds -1.5
Mavericks Odds +1.5
Over/Under 212.5
Time 9:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

After dropping two games on the road the Phoenix Suns returned home on Tuesday and beat the Dallas Mavericks senseless in a pivotal Game 5.

Now, the series is theirs for the taking on Thursday in Game 6 on the road. Is there any reason to believe Phoenix will slow down now?

Let’s take a look at how this one will shake out.

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Will Shooting Level Out for the Suns?

After a disastrous trip down to Dallas left this series tied heading to Game 5, the basketball world wondered whether or not the Suns would respond. Well, respond they did. Phoenix posted its best defensive performance of the season with an 85.1 efficiency rating, aided by a terrible shooting night for the Mavericks and also some hard work inside.

The Suns were incredibly dominant in Game 5, and with the league’s most efficient offense they could easily blow the doors off Dallas on any court. We need to focus on some of the concerns here for Phoenix, though. Chief among them would be the shooting splits: The Suns have made just 32.5% of their 3s on the road during the playoffs compared to 39.4% at home.

While they knocked down 46.4% of their looks from downtown in Game 3, they were held back by Chris Paul, who has been atrocious in the past three games. The veteran point guard has turned the ball over 13 times over that span, averaging just eight points per game. He managed to cut down on the turnovers in Game 4, but he also fouled out of that game and played just 23 minutes. It’s also worth noting that in Game 5 — a 30-point win for Phoenix — Paul was just a +7.

We should also talk about Jae Crowder for a second here. He appeared to injure his leg in Game 4 and then in Game 5 he hurt his shoulder diving for a loose ball. The Suns are expecting him to be a full go, but it’s possible he won’t be his normal self.

Dallas’ Overreliance on 3s Could be Trouble

With some help from CP3, the Mavericks managed to accomplish a rare feat in Game 3: They won without having a great shooting night. That’s right, Dallas won the turnover battle by nine and managed to win despite 33.3% shooting from deep and allowing 46.4% shooting from deep on the other side.

This, my friends, is an anomaly. The Mavericks are very much a team that is going to live and die by the 3-point shot, and it’s evident based on their past two games. In Game 4 they simply couldn’t miss, hitting 20 3s on 44 tries. In Game 5 on the road, they regressed to just 25% shooting from downtown.

Dallas thrived early in last year’s opening-round series with the Clippers after making a barrage of threes before cooling off and losing the series. The same could happen here, particularly when you consider the shooting splits.

Dallas has actually shot worse at home during the playoffs, hitting 37.1% of its 3s at the American Airlines Center compared to 37.8% away from home. The Mavs obviously had few bad shooting nights in the past few weeks, but it’s not a guarantee the 3-point onslaught will continue just with a change in venue. Dallas shot 27.9% in a big Game 4 against Utah at home and 28.1% from deep in Game 1 of that series.

Most concerning of all is the fact that the Mavericks have not once really challenged the Suns on the glass. They’ve never grabbed more than 47.9% of available boards and posted a 43.6% rebounding rate in Game 6.

That’s life when you play small in hopes of hitting a million 3s, and it’s unlikely that changes. Dallas will go all out to win the game from the perimeter.

Suns-Mavericks Pick

The Suns did a much better job of running Dallas off the 3-point line in Game 5 and closing out on shooters. While the Mavericks certainly missed some open shots, it seems this high-caliber defense is finally keying in on the perimeter and staying home on the Mavericks’ sharpshooting wings.

It seems like a very simple handicap of this game, but the chances of Dallas shooting poorly and winning are very slim, and conversely it will be difficult for the Suns to win if the Mavericks hit 20 3s again. I hope, however, I’ve done a decent enough job of highlighting how 3s have impacted this series.

I don’t know if going back to Dallas is going to mean 45% shooting from deep again, particularly with Phoenix waking up on the defensive end last game. I also find it hard to believe we will get a fourth straight bad game from Paul, and as long as he returns to form the Suns have to be considered strong favorites here.

I love betting on teams in the playoffs that have a decisive edge on the glass, and that’s what we have here in Phoenix. It will be able to get some crucial extra possessions and steal them away from Dallas.

That will give the league’s best regular-season offense more opportunities to drive a stake in the Mavericks, which is what I predict will happen.

Pick: Suns ML (-130)