• Chris Paul and the Suns draw the Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs
  • Both squads needed six games to put away the Pelicans and Jazz respectively
  • The one-on-one matchups will likely determine who takes this series

With the Dallas Mavericks’ razor-thin victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6, they are now set to face a Phoenix Suns team that was pushed to their limit in their opening round series with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Seeing the Suns struggle with a team that played with their hearts on their sleeves was certainly uncharacteristic of the top-seeded Western Conference squad, but Chris Paul once again came to their rescue.

Widely regarded as one of the best point guards of all-time, Paul put up a historic shooting night after tallying 33 points on a perfect 14-of-14 from the field, four of them being free throws, plus a perfect trip to the free throw line.

“Yeah, we needed it. At some point in the second quarter, I told coach (Monty Williams) that I’m going to get aggressive. I told him that. Coming out in the third quarter, I saw how the game was going [and] we were down 10. I knew I had to try and force the issue,” Paul said in the postgame presser about his performance.

The Suns certainly needed “The Point God” to turn back time and put on one of the best displays of basketball the league has seen as the Pelicans threatened to force a Game 7.

Paul was helped by the returning Devin Booker’s 13 points, Deandre Ayton’s 22, and Mikal Bridges’ 18 scores to turn back the Pelicans and finally look ahead.

As for the Mavericks, they were anchored by the 24-point performances from Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic as they downed the Jazz to set up a meeting with the Suns.

This would be the first-ever playoff matchup between 2018 draftees Ayton and Doncic, the pair who was in the running for the Suns’ first overall pick at the time.

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks drives past Royce O'Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz during the first half of Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 28, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Ayton has continued to show up in the postseason and proved to the Suns' upper management that he deserves a max deal in the summer, while Doncic has ascended to superstardom under the Mavericks.

However, the matchup everyone would be on the lookout for is Doncic and Booker--two dynamic guards with a penchant for high-scoring performances.

It remains to be seen how ready Booker will be for his new task of going up against Doncic following his hamstring injury, but him playing 32 minutes in Game 6 is a great sign moving forward.

Preventing Ayton from exploding early on in the series will be the responsibility of centers Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber, but NBA fans may see Boban Marjanovic play some spot minutes against the Bahamian center in order to neutralize his presence inside the paint.

When it comes to the power forward matchup, Jae Crowder and Dorian Finney-Smith will be locked in a battle to prove who is the more dominant 3-and-D player among them.

Reggie Bullock and Mikal Bridges are also set to play pivotal roles in their teams’ success thanks to their ability to make shots when called upon.

Lastly, Paul and Brunson will be locked in a series of battles to captain their squad’s offense while initiating their own teams’ runs.

On paper, the Mavericks look as if they are going to be overwhelmed by a Suns team that went to last year's NBA Finals.

However, the playoffs are an entirely different beast, and based on how the Suns have played against the Pelicans, seeing this series go to at least five games with the potential to extend to six is a real possibility.

Both teams will need to be on their A-games once the series kicks off on Monday, May 2 as they look towards a Western Conference Finals berth.

Deandre Ayton
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Thunder 113-101. Christian Petersen/Getty Images