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Despite hot start, Mavericks pushed to brink of playoff elimination after Phoenix Suns scorching 3rd Quarter

Suns lead series 3-2 with Game 6 in Dallas on Thursday night.
Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) tries to get off a shot against Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the first half of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is the recipient of this year's NBA Coach of the Year Award.

In a pivotal playoff matchup between the Suns and Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, Williams led a masterclass in coaching en route to a Suns victory, 110-80, to take a 3-2 series lead.

Through the first five games of the series, the home team is undefeated. The Mavs edged the Suns in Games 3 and 4 in Dallas, after the Suns defended homecourt in Games 1 and 2.

Reminder: The Suns were not only the NBA's only 60-win team this year -- they were the best home team in the league (32-9).

To win the series, Luka Doncic and the Mavs have to win a game in Phoenix. For the first 20 minutes, they appeared up to the task.

Dallas led by eight points in the first quarter, but the lead quickly vanished when Williams brought Bismack Biyombo off the bench.

Rather than turning to backup center Javale McGee, Williams elected to go with Biyombo who had some success defending Doncic at the tail end of Game 4.

Biyombo played 21 minutes off the bench -- the most playing time he's received in a playoff game since he was on the Toronto Raptors in 2016 --and finished with seven points, six rebounds and a plus/minus of +20. His defense on Doncic gave Phoenix a boost and the energy he provided on both ends of the court was palpable.

It was a brilliant move by Williams to play Biyombo, and it's an example of why he's one of the game's premier coaches. Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, who has made some quality adjustments this postseason as well, will have to figure out a counter move.

Biyombo, along with the rest of the Suns bench, put their stamp on Game 5 as they outscored the Mavs bench 38-23.

Powered by a team-high 28 points from Devin Booker, Phoenix came out of halftime and outscored Dallas, 33-14, in the third quarter.

The Mavs turned the ball over 12 times in the third quarter -- the most they've had in a single playoff quarter since 2012.

“I think we relaxed," Doncic said after the game. "We’ve got to be way better than that.”

Doncic (28 points, 11 rebounds) and Jalen Brunson (21 points) scored 62% of the Mavs total points and that simply will not cut it versus the league's best.

The Mavs dug too deep of a hole and now head back to Dallas with their season on the brink of elimination.

Game 6 is Thursday night (8:30 p.m.) at the American Airlines Center.

For the Mavericks, it's win -- or stay home.