The Phoenix Suns’ run to another NBA finals isn’t so clear-cut anymore, even before considering who they would have to face next should they progress to the conference finals.
Last year’s NBA finalists have watched a 2-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks slip away, with the series now even at 2-2 following Dallas cruising to a 111-101 victory at home on Sunday. The win, though, was marred by an ugly off-court incident involving the family of Suns point guard Chris Paul.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, a source close to the situation claimed Mavericks fans put their hands on Paul’s mother and pushed the player’s wife in front of his kids.
“A source familiar with Chris Paul’s tweet after Game 4 told ESPN that Paul’s mother had hands put on her by Dallas fans and Paul’s wife was also pushed,” the reporter tweeted. “To make matters worse, Paul’s kids witnessed it. “They felt very unsafe,” the source said.
In a video making the rounds on social media, a Mavs fan was seen getting kicked out of the game while an incensed Paul yelled “Hey! Hey! Hey! I’ll see you later! I’ll see you later!”
It hasn’t been confirmed that the fan was the one who violated Paul’s family.
The veteran guard didn’t field questions pertaining to the incident after the contest but would tweet the following:
“Wanna fine players for saying stuff to the fans but the fans can put they hands on our families….f**k that!!”
“The Dallas Mavericks are aware of an incident between a fan and the family of Chris Paul. It was unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated,” the Mavericks told CNN in a statement. “The Mavericks, along with American Airlines Center, swiftly removed the fan from today’s game.”
The incident has sparked outrage among reporters, as well as fans on social media.
As for the game itself, Paul fouled out and his six fouls were more than the points he put on the board (five), which was a first for him in the playoffs. It was also the first time he fouled out since 2018.
The Suns missed his presence early in the fourth quarter, and the Mavs capitalized as Luka Doncic led the way with 26 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds.
“I can’t put myself in the situations to give [the referees] that ability to do that,” Paul said, per ESPN. “I just got to look at myself and figure out how to be better.”
Doncic shot just 1-for-10 from behind the arc but his teammates made up for that, going 19-for-34 from three. The Suns only managed 9-for-25.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 24 points, a playoff career high, along with 8 rebounds. The forward hit important consecutive threes during the fourth quarter and would finish just one shy of the Mavs record for triples with eight.
“Luka told me when I had five threes, he told me, ‘You’re about to get some more,'” Finney-Smith told reporters. “When LD tells you you’re about to get some more threes, I figured I was going to get some.”
The Mavericks have made it a series after getting blown out in Games 1 and 2, taking care of business at home ahead of a return to Phoenix on Tuesday night, when Game 5 takes place.
Devin Booker, who led the Suns with 35 points and 7 assists, conceded that there are no easy games in the playoffs.
“We understand that it is a series and it’s the playoffs for a reason,” he told reporters after the loss.
“The best teams in the NBA are here and nobody wants to lose. So just taking that all in, flushing this game and just coming out with the right mentality. If we’re worried about the last couple games the whole time, I think we’re at a disadvantage.”
The upcoming contest now holds plenty of intrigue, especially for betting folk. The Suns are favored to win – bookmakers are offering odds of 2/5 on their chances while the Mavs are an attractive 21/10. Of course, BetMGM Arizona has odds on this game too, so residents would do well to check them out.
Things have gotten pretty interesting out East too, with the Philadelphia 76ers tying their series vs. the Miami Heat 2-2 on Sunday night following a poor shooting performance from the Heat.
Joel Embiid’s return has certainly sparked the team on the back of them going down 2-0 but James Harden came alive in Game 4, scoring 31 points in 41 minutes after poor showings in the postseason. The series will head back to Miami for Game 5 on Tuesday night.