PHOENIX — The Western Conference finals will have a surprise participant after Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks dismissed the top-seeded Phoenix Suns from the NBA playoffs in completely dominant fashion.
The Mavericks claimed the right to advance to face the Golden State Warriors by rolling to a 123-90 route from the Suns in Sunday’s Game 7.
After falling in an 0-2 hole with a pair of road losses, Dallas won four out of five games, putting the finishing touches on the series by humiliating the Phoenix home court. The Footprint Center crowd booed the Suns at the halftime buzzer — when the 30-point deficit was the largest ever at the half of a Game 7, according to ESPN Stats & Information research — and frequently in the second half.
Doncic, the Mavericks’ 23-year-old sensation, punched his ticket to the conference finals for the first time with a 35-point, 10-rebound, four-assist performance in 30 minutes. He sat out the entire fourth quarter, as the game was well in hand by that point.
“He’s Luka,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “He loves the stage. As it gets bigger, he gets better.”
Doncic seized control on the opening possession, when he swished a turnaround jumper that gave Dallas the lead for good. He finished the first half with 27 points, matching Phoenix’s total, and became the first player in at least 25 seasons to equal or exceed an opponent’s scoring in a half of a playoff game.
Dallas sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie was almost as spectacular, scoring 21 of his playoff career-high 30 points in the first half. It marked the first time that a pair of teammates each scored at least 20 points in a half of a Game 7 since the New York Knicks tandem of Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston did it against the Miami Heat in 1997.
Meanwhile, the Suns’ star trio of Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton combined to make only one of their 15 shots from the floor in the first half.
Paul, the 37-year-old legend who hoped to finally earn a championship ring after coming up short in his first NBA Finals appearance last season, didn’t get a bucket until the Suns trailed by 40 points midway through the third quarter. Booker’s first basket didn’t come until a bit later in the quarter.