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Luka Doncic, Mavericks rise to occasion and force winner-take-all Game 7 vs. Suns

The playoff series heads to Phoenix for Game 7 on Sunday.
Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) hangs on the rim over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, right, after scoring during the second half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

DALLAS — Facing playoff elimination against the NBA's number one team in the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks had two options: win or stay home.

Home has been the key word in the Mavs' second round playoff series against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.

The home team has won every matchup so far with seven points being the smallest margin of victory (Game 1).

The trend continued in Dallas on Thursday night as the Mavericks fended off elimination in Game 6, 113-86.

Before this spring, the Mavericks had not won a home playoff game since 2015. They've won five in the last three weeks.

As usual, 23-year-old wunderkind Luka Doncic led the way with 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. He turned the ball over once -- his fewest number of turnovers in a game since March 29 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doncic's shooting efficiency continues to be a storyline this series, as the Suns boast one of the premier defensive units in the league. He made 11 of 26 shots (42%) in Game 6, while going 2-for-8 from beyond the arc.

Doncic averaged 35% from three-point range during the regular season.

Through the last four games, he's made seven of 33 shots from downtown (21%).

And guess what?

The Mavericks won three of those four games.

To win the series, the Mavs will have to beat the NBA's only 60-win team a fourth time in five games.

The Suns haven't lost four games in a five-game stretch since the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks won Games 3-6 in last year's NBA Finals.

Similar to Games 3 and 4, a collective effort spurred the Mavs to victory in Game 6.

Reggie Bullock erupted for 19 points including five crowd-raising three-points. Jalen Brunson remained bullish (18 points) and Spencer Dinwiddie got his groove back off the bench with 15 points.

On Thursday morning, Doncic said the Mavericks had to "push the pace" to prevent the Suns from setting up their half-court defense.

From Luka's lips to the Mavericks feet, Dallas outscored the Suns in fast break points 21-8 thanks to winning the turnover battle 22-7.

Phoenix sharpshooter Devin Booker was held to 19 points (35% shooting), while Chris Paul scored just 13 points.

Doncic's 33 points outscored Booker and Paul combined.

It was a complete performance on both ends of the floor by the Mavericks in their biggest game of the year.

Next up: Their biggest game of the year.

Game 7 in Phoenix on Sunday. The time is to be determined.

To win the series, the Mavs will have to go on the road and defeat league's top home team (32-9 home record).

But, at least they're not staying home.

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