The Phoenix Suns have the Dallas Mavericks on the brink of elimination after their dominating 110-80 victory in Game 5 of this Western Conference, best-of-seven playoff series. As is the case with most playoff series, things have been fiery between the two teams on the court. Following the blowout loss, Luka Doncic was caught on video making a claim about the Suns’ toughness.
“Everybody acting tough when they up,” said Doncic.
“Everybody acting tough when they up.”
– Luka. 👀
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 11, 2022
This was a comment that may have been aimed in the direction of the Suns’ third-string center Bismack Biyombo who late in the fourth went up for a dunk when they game was already in hand and received a hard foul from the Mavericks’ Marquese Chriss.
Biyombo didn’t like it and said something to Chriss who chirped back, and the two men were in each other’s faces as Chriss swiped Biyombo’s hand away. Both men were ejected and upon leaving the court, Chriss chased Biyombo down the hallway toward the locker rooms.
Marquese Chriss and Bismack Biyombo almost went at it in the locker room hallway 😳 pic.twitter.com/erLrolsXcO
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 11, 2022
According to reports, the two were separated in the hallway before coming into physical contact.
— Allie LaForce (@ALaForce) May 11, 2022
Welcome to the NBA playoffs! AKA Mental Warfare
You often hear people talk about the difference between playoff basketball and regular season basketball. Of course, that primarily refers to the game play, level of execution, and schematic adjustments. But it also refers to the physicality, contentiousness and mental warfare.
Over the course of an 82-game season, players are just trying to survive and not suffer major injuries. In the playoffs, the games have extremely high stakes and everyone’s level is heightened.
Playing the same team over the course of 7-12 days, has a way of getting under players’ skins. They get tired of seeing the opponent smirk, or their tendencies after making a big play. Incidents from game to game carry over in a way they can’t in the regular season.
Add in the insane level of competitiveness and testosterone and oftentimes you get a combustible situation.
Growing Western Conference Rivalry
The Suns and Mavericks do not like each other. The Suns players think Doncic whines and flops his way to calls.
Hello pot, meet kettle.
The same can be said about Suns all-everything point guard Chris Paul. He is on the Mount Rushmore of players that manipulate refs and rules to gain an advantage.
Suns guard Devin Booker lay on the floor for an extra long time after being fouled, and when he got up he smiled and said “the Luka Special.”
“The Luka special.”
—Devin Booker after staying down on the floor after a fall.
(via ky_russell0/IG) pic.twitter.com/63EoZ8zyIL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 11, 2022
All of this is part of competition, and the playoffs bring it out of you.
We Want The Crown
The Suns have been the best team in the league all season, after seeing them lose two games to the New Orleans Pelicans in round one, the Mavericks had to believe they would have a chance. The winner of this series advances to the Western Conference finals. The vast majority of NBA players never make it that far.
Paul has only made two appearances in that round in his 17-year Hall of Fame career. It’s hard to win in the postseason.
Both teams desperately want to win this series and the other is an obstacle in the way. These players are going to do whatever they can to try and gain an edge so they can survive and advance.
Thursday’s Game 6 in Dallas is a potential closeout. Look for the Mavericks to be really juiced up and their crowd to be into it. Look for the Suns to try and manage that opening blitz by the home team. There will be a lot of talking, physicality and mind games. Whichever team manages their emotions the best and executes will win.