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Suns prepping ahead of pivotal Game 7 Sunday night

Suns guard Devin Booker, among others, prepare for first Game 7 of their career.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns are looking to keep their season going beyond Sunday night with a win at home against the Dallas Mavericks. 

"Game Seven" might be the best two words in sports but there's only one word to describe the energy inside Phoenix's practice facility leading up to game time: intense.

"That's how it's supposed to be. It shouldn't be any other way," Suns star Devin Booker said. "I like coming in here with everybody locked in top to bottom. From the front office looking through the windows, you can feel the demeanor. And that's why we play sports. We thought we had something going during the regular season, trying to break the franchise record and this is a whole different beast."

While many experts predicted this series to go the distance -- with the Suns advancing to the Western Conference Finals -- few people have been able to understand how the top-seeded Suns failed to win a game in Dallas. 

RELATED: Moving on to Game 7: Mavericks force win-or-go-home series finale with 113-86 win over Suns

After a disappointing 113-86, loss in what could have been a close-out Game 6, Suns head coach Monty Williams says this team understands what's at stake Sunday evening.

"Every possession is important. You don't have time to not be ready to play," Williams said. "Whether it's a dead ball situation, a call doesn't go your way, transition defense or you go on a run, you have to keep that same level of intensity when you come out of a time out or you're knocking down shots and things are going your way."

Booker says he's been juiced to play this game from the moment Game 6 ended. He admits the nerves and excitement might make it tough for him to sleep tonight but he'll be passing the time as many 20-somethings do.

"It's going to be on my mind I might find some time today to get some Call of Duty in just to free my mind. It's a hot day today, I might get in the pool," Booker said. "Our team overall, we're just ready to execute."

Suns forward Jae Crowder is more anxious than anything leading up to tip-off.

Crowder said part of his approach and preparation includes taking his mind away from the game to help him stay centered. While Booker plans on playing video games to ease his mind, Crowder will be decompressing in a way many people might not expect.

"I'm going to get my nails done right now. Pamper myself a bit, get my feet done," Crowder said. "Sit by the pool, talk to my dad, watch a movie tonight, kick my feet up, get a massage at some point today. I just try to check my boxes and make sure my body's where it needs to be. Look into the game plan, the adjustments that we're making and check those boxes off. Watch the second half of the last game and from that point on I'll be ready to go."

Crowder is 1-1 all-time in Game 7 while Suns guard Chris Paul is 3-4.

Most of the players on Phoenix's roster have never experienced a Game 7 and Crowder explained that advice from the most seasoned veterans can't prepare a player for the emotions and enhanced atmosphere that comes with it.

"You're going to see two teams with desperation. Two teams fighting for each and every possession, that's what it's about," Crowder said. "That's what the playoffs are about, that's what Game 7 is about. It's just about who imposes their will the most."

The home team has won convincingly in the first six games of this Western Conference Semifinal series and the home team has won nearly 80% of the Game 7s in NBA playoff history. 

Booker will be playing in the first Game 7 of his career and the Suns star is relishing the moment with only 48 minutes of basketball separating the Suns from either facing the Golden State Warriors in a highly-anticipated Western Conference Finals matchup or their offseason.

"Just understanding your season's at stake, adds a good pressure to it. An exciting pressure," Booker said. "I think we have the guys in this gym that embrace that. Embrace it, take it in, understand what's at stake and are ready to perform up to it."

Game 7 of the Mavericks-Suns series tips off at 5 p.m. at Footprint Center. The winner goes on to face the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Follow the conversation with Lina Washington on Twitter: @LWashingtonTV. If you have a sports story idea, e-mail Lina at LWashington@12News.com.


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