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How the Suns defend Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic is the key to Game 5

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Suns options in defending Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic

No player in the NBA can stop Luka one-on-one. Suns wing Mikal Bridges finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, and he can normally slow down the opposition’s best option, but not Doncic. The Mavericks matchup advantage forces the Suns' defense to adjust.

In this series, Monty Williams has respected Luka and sent plenty of help to try to make his shots difficult, but the results have been open looks for his teammates. The shots did not fall in Phoenix, but the Mavericks got plenty of open attempts. When they returned home, the shots fell and the results flipped. Here Doncic drives into the paint and draws a crowd before kicking to Dorian Finney-Smith for an open 3-pointer.

Devin Booker cheats too far into the paint, and he cannot close out on Doe-Doe. It has been a common theme in the series. Luka draws help and finds an open teammate.

The Suns have conceded switches, which lets Doncic feast. He can force Chris Paul, Cam Johnson, or Cameron Payne to guard him and take them to school. Here Luka drives past Johnson, which forces Deandre Ayton to help at the rim and leaves Jalen Brunson wide open for the game-sealing 3-pointer.

Phoenix could up their aggression on defense and try not to switch, but Luka has had his way with Mikal Bridges too. Yes, it is more difficult for number 77, but he cannot be stopped.

That fact leaves the Suns with two options. They can keep trying to send help, which allows the Mavs role players to shoot open threes, or Phoenix can let Doncic go one-on-one. The latter would let Luka score as much as he wants but allows the Suns to defend and ideally shut down the Mavericks' role players. Which should Phoenix choose?

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