The Dallas Mavericks crushed the Phoenix Suns113-86 in Game 6 to keep their season alive. Luka Doncic deservedly earned the headlines with a 33-point double-double, but it was the team’s defense that shined. The top-seeded Suns scored a season-low 86 points, and their offense never got on track.
Reserve guard Frank Ntilikina entered the game with 1:26 left in the first quarter, and the Mavericks ahead 24-23. Ten seconds later, he had his first of four steals. The 6’4 guard played the passing lanes to perfection in Game 6, and his stout defense no matter his assignment helped disrupt the Suns.
Ntilikina’s numbers do not jump off the screen. He missed his only field goal attempt and failed to score in Game 6. The French Prince did have two assists to go with four steals and an impressive block on a Devin Booker mid-range jumper. Defense let the way for Dallas on May 12, and Ntilikina played a key role in their success.
Frank Ntilikina uses defense to key Dallas Mavericks Game 6 win over Phoenix Suns
Mavs head coach Jason Kidd has made some key adjustments during the team’s playoff run, including inserting Frank Ntilikina into the rotation over Josh Green in this series. Dallas needs another stout perimeter defender on the floor, and the 23-year-old has more experience. He previously had two steals in the series, and the Mavericks have outscored Phoenix with the French Prince on the floor in four of the first six games.
The Suns turned the ball over 22 times in Game 6, and Ntilikina’s four steals were a massive part of getting Phoenix out of their offensive rhythm. It is a testament to the 6’4 guard. He stayed ready despite not being part of the rotation down the stretch of the regular season, and he missed their first round series against the Jazz after having a tonsillectomy.
Frank Ntilikina made a massive impact in the Dallas Mavericks' biggest game of the season, and they will need a repeat in Game 7. Limiting Devin Booker and Chris Paul is a important ingredient in recipe to pulling the upset and advancing to the Western Conference Finals. Ntilikina will play a key role in their defense, but does it translate to the Valley of the Sun? Tune in to find out.