X-factor in Dallas Mavericks second-round playoff series vs. Suns: 3. Clutch
The Suns were the best clutch team in the league this season, according to NBA Stats by winning 78.6 percent of their 42 games that were within five points in the final five minutes as Phoenix shot 57.8 percent in those situations. Chris Paul is masterful late in close games, and Devin Booker is always looking to sink a clutch shot.
Since Feb. 3, it was the Mavericks that took over the crown as the best clutch team. They won 86.7 percent of their final 15 tight regular-season games and edged the Suns by shooting 55.4 percent from the field to their 55.1 percent.
Both teams are comfortable grinding out a difficult win and hitting shots with the game on the line, but who will control those moments in this series. The Mavs were ahead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter in two of the three meetings against Phoenix this season before the Suns stormed back to win in clutch time.
The Suns will be looking to attack in the mid-range late in games, and Dallas is normally comfortable conceding those shots. Does that give Phoenix the edge in a tight contest? Whichever team plays better in crunch time is going to win the series.