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Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Kidd owns Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams as series goes to Game 7

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The Dallas Mavericks should not still be playing.

They should not have been playing two nights ago.

The Mavs should have cleaned out their lockers, conducted their season-ending interviews, and be halfway to a tropical beach by now.

The Dallas Mavericks are still playing because the Phoenix Suns’ head coach is getting his fanny kicked by the other guy.

The NBA’s best team in the regular season is begging to blow their chance at a second straight trip to the NBA Finals.

On Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Suns 113-86 in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The series is tied at 3.

Game 7 is Sunday in Phoenix.

Per the NBA, “If Milwaukee wins (Friday) night, the Mavericks will tip Game 7 vs. Phoenix at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.

“If Boston vs. Milwaukee requires a Game 7, the Mavericks will tip Game 7 vs. Phoenix at 7 p.m. on TNT.”

It’s the second straight year the Mavs will play a Game 7 on the road. Didn’t go so well last year. The Mavs lost Game 7 in their first-round series with the L.A. Clippers.

This current Mavs team bears little resemblance to last season’s team, starting with the head coach.

The Mavs have reached a Game 7 against a superior opponent because first-year head coach Jason Kidd is having a much better series than Suns coach Monty Williams.

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The Suns won 64 games in the regular-season, tops in the NBA.

With Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker, the Suns should have defeated the Mavs in this series, at worst, 4-2.

After losing Games 1 and 2 in Phoenix, the Mavericks have won three of the last four; all of their wins came at the American Airlines Center.

“It must be in the air,” Mavs forward Reggie Bullock said after the game.

And on the bench.

This series has been entirely dictated by the home floor, and Kidd having the courage to challenge one of the best players in the world to get his stuff together, and be better.

A head coach publicly challenging his own star player requires real courage; Kidd’s predecessor, Rick Carlisle, did it almost as much as he smiled.

The Suns have won their three games at home by an average of 15.6 points; the Mavs have won their three games at home by an average of 15.3 points.

In Games 1 and 2, the Suns “hunted” Mavs forward Doncic on nearly every offensive possession; the Suns, and specifically point guard Chris Paul, exploited that matchup to humiliating lengths.

Paul scored 47 points with 11 assists in the first two games.

After Game 2, Kidd politely called out Doncic and challenged him to be better defensively.

Doncic will never be confused for Dennis Rodman, but he was no longer an alarming liability on defense.

Since the the start of Game 3, Paul no longer looks like one of the best point guards ever but rather a 37-year-old guy hanging on. He has scored 37 points combined in the remainder of the series.

The Mavs have made a few other adjustments; Kidd put Bullock on Booker on Thursday, and Booker scored 19 points but needed 17 shots to do it. He also had eight turnovers.

The Mavs have also not allowed the biggest advantage in this series, Suns center Deandre Ayton, to own them.

After Game 1, where Ayton finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds, he looked as if he would be too much for a smaller Mavs team to handle. He should be; the Mavericks have no one who can deal with him inside.

He has been good in a series where, matchup-wise, he should be great.

On Thursday night, the Mavericks moved the ball much better than in Game 5, and led 60-45 at the half. The Suns never made it interesting.

We have the celebrated Game 7 when, matchup-wise, this series should already be over.

It’s not over because Jason Kidd is having a much better series than Monty Williams.

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