Top-seeded Suns playing like favorites in NBA playoffs

The Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat are top seeds in the NBA playoffs and at the moment they look like it, coming off impressive performances.

Both have a chance to take 2-0 leads in their respective series on May 4 and are strong favorites to get it done, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

In the Western Conference, the Suns have a 10-game winning streak against the Dallas Mavericks, counting regular-season games, going into Game 2. Deandre Ayton scored 25 points, Devin Booker added 23 and Chris Paul had 19 in Game 1 in a balanced and mostly dominant performance.

The Suns were up 21 points in the fourth quarter before a Mavs rally made it a two-possession game in the final minutes. Phoenix held on for a 121-114 win and said the game taught them a valuable lesson.

"Just break the dang gas pedal, that’s it, just break it," Ayton said, referring to whether Phoenix lost its focus with the big lead.

As for the Mavericks, they need someone to help Luka Doncic, who scored 45 points, had 12 rebounds and eight assists in Game 1. Coach Jason Kidd said others need "to join the party" if Dallas is going to make this a competitive series.

"We have been here before," Dallas forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. "Don’t overreact. We have to go back to the drawing board. We know how they are playing us now so we have to make our adjustment."

MORE: Mavericks, Suns both adversity-tested in these playoffs

In the Eastern Conference, the 76ers used plenty of lineups against the Heat in Game 1, and will continue to seek the right mix without league scoring champion and NBA MVP finalist Joel Embiid -- who will miss Game 2 with an orbital fracture and concussion.

Miami won Game 1 106-92.

Going small worked at times for Philadelphia. When Miami figured out the counter, the game got away from the 76ers. But there were some elements that worked.

"The biggest adjustment for us is taking care of the darn ball," Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday. "That’s being organized, being in the right spots, running your offense correctly. ... To get in the game and let that pressure take us out of that, it’s not disheartening but really troubling."

And a Game 1 loss certainly didn’t hurt Philadelphia’s confidence. Backup center Paul Reed made that clear after the game.

"Honestly, I think we can definitely beat this team," Reed said. "I think we go out there, be more physical than them and play more aggressive and keep them on their heels, they’re going to fold."


Phoenix leads 1-0. Game 2, 10 p.m. EDT, TNT.

— NEED TO KNOW: The Suns were dominant for most of Game 1, looking much more like the team that led the NBA with 64 regular-season wins. Deandre Ayton scored 25 points, Devin Booker had 23 and Chris Paul added 19. The Mavs hope they can take some confidence from a late-game run that made the score fairly close in the final few possessions. Mavs guard Luka Doncic was phenomenal with 45 points but needs help for Dallas to get a road win.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Dallas G Jalen Brunson. Arguably the biggest reason the Mavs are still playing in this postseason is Brunson, who has had some big games when Doncic missed the first three contests of the Jazz series with a strained calf. Brunson struggled in Game 1, scoring just 13 points on 6 of 16 shooting. He’ll need to play better.

— INJURY WATCH: Dallas forward Maxi Kleber took a hard fall in the fourth quarter, landing on his upper back and neck after finishing a dunk. He stayed in the game to take his free throw but looked shaken. Kleber was a significant contributor in Game 1, scoring 19 points and making five 3-pointers. Suns guard Devin Booker appeared to be at full strength in his second game back from a strained right hamstring, but he’ll still be closely monitored.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Dallas. The Mavericks have lost 10 straight games against the Suns, counting regular-season games. Doncic — as usual — has been fabulous but if the Mavs can’t find him some help this could be a short series.

Games have positive economic impact on Phoenix

The playoffs have a big economic impact on the City of Phoenix, with tens of thousands of tourists pouring into local restaurants, shops and hotels.

"Typically, when you see a tourist come into the Arizona market, they spend $400 a day, so you can do the math. You have several thousand people coming here for the day, each spending $400 and staying for two to three games or the series," said Christine Mackey with the City of Phoenix.

The games also give the city and Downtown Phoenix an opportunity to showcase all of their new development.

"We can verify from last playoffs the Suns brought in millions of dollars of revenue and economic activity," said Mackey.


AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.


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AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story.


More AP NBA coverage: and