Top-seeded Suns, Heat playing like the favorites in playoffs

May 3, 2022, 1:10 AM | Updated: 1:14 pm

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) reacts to a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second...

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) reacts to a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game 1 in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoff series Monday, May 2, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

              Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) drives to the basket as Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo (4) defends during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, May 2, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
              Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) works the ball to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, center, and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, during the second half of Game 1 in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoff series Monday, May 2, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
              Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) reacts to a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game 1 in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoff series Monday, May 2, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
              Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, May 2, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

PHOENIX (AP) — 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 Wednesday 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.”

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.”


Miami leads 1-0. Game 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT, TNT.

— NEED TO KNOW: Miami’s Bam Adebayo was 8 for 10 from the floor in Game 1, Tyler Herro got his shooting stroke back and the Heat won without a big night from Jimmy Butler (15 points). But the 76ers found things that they liked; zone defense worked to a certain extent, though exposed Philadelphia a bit on the offensive glass. Tobias Harris — who was great against the Heat in the regular season — had a game-high 27 points. “He killed us. We didn’t handle him well,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Philadelphia G James Harden. Only four shots and four points in the second half (granted, he didn’t play much of the fourth quarter) isn’t enough right now for a 76ers team without Joel Embiid. Harden doesn’t have to take 35 shots, but he and the 76ers need to find ways for him to try and score more.

— INJURY WATCH: Embiid (orbital fracture, concussion) remains out, though has taken the first steps toward escaping the concussion protocols. “He’s feeling a lot better. I don’t want to give false hope, either, so I’ll just stop there,” Rivers said. Miami PG Kyle Lowry (hamstring) has not played since Game 3 of the first-round series against Atlanta and will not play Wednesday. Butler had an excused absence on Tuesday, but is no longer on the Heat injury report.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Miami. All the Heat have done is win a home game. If Philadelphia steals Game 2, it gets the home-court advantage for the series. That, combined with the possibility of Embiid returning at some point, would be a huge boost to the 76ers.


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 the 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 was 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 be 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 signficant 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.


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


More AP NBA coverage: and


AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this story.


More AP NBA coverage: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Top-seeded Suns, Heat playing like the favorites in playoffs