PHOENIX (AP) — Coach Jason Kidd made it clear during an interview before Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals that no matter what happened on Sunday night, the Dallas Mavericks should consider this a successful season.
A few hours later, it became even more special.
Luka Doncic scored 35 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 30 and the Mavericks overwhelmed the top-seeded Phoenix Suns 123-90 in a Game 7 that will be remembered for the Mavericks’ dominance and the Suns’ disappearance.
“Amazing,” Doncic said in the postgame afterglow. “I don’t know what to say.”
Now the Mavs are off to the Western Conference finals for the fifth time in franchise history and the first time since 2011. They travel to face the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 on Wednesday.
It’s another difficult task for the Mavericks: The Warriors are battle-tested and still have the core of a dynasty that includes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Then again, Dallas just beat the NBA’s best team during the regular season on the road by 33 points in Game 7.
At this point, anything seems possible.
“Why would you want to put a ceiling on somebody or a team?” Kidd said. “We believe. It showed today. We’ve got to go through this journey. I hate when we label or cap something.
“We don’t know how far this can go.”
It’s been a stellar run for the Mavericks, who underwent a midseason transformation after adding Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in a trade that sent 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards. Dallas emerged from the trade with less size, but also with more shooting.
Dinwiddie was spectacular off the bench on Sunday, making 11 of 15 shots, including 5 of 7 3-pointers. Doncic might be the team’s unquestioned star — he’s averaging more than 31 points per game in these playoffs — but it’s always nice to have help.
Guys like Dinwiddie, Jalen Brunson and Maxi Kleber have provided it. Brunson had 24 points on Sunday and is averaging nearly 23 points per game in the playoffs. Kidd — who is in his first season as the team’s coach — has made it all work at the perfect time.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re looking forward to heading to the Bay. It’s the Western Conference finals. It’s what you dream of.”
The Mavericks were an offensive machine in Game 7, shooting 57% from the field and 49% from 3-point range. Those numbers might be hard to attain on a nightly basis, but there’s little doubt that when this Mavs team is rolling, they have a pretty good chance against just about any opponent.
Golden State’s really good and has the titles to prove it. Dallas isn’t bad, either.
“We’re still learning each other, we’re still finding ways to get better,” Kidd said. “We’re playing a very special team in the Warriors, when you talk about dynasties and one of the best coaches to ever do it.
“We’ll celebrate this, enjoy it today, then close the book and get ready for Golden State.”