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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Mavericks Rain on Warriors' Parade

Rain delays are unusual in the NBA, but the rain delay prior to the second half of game four of the Western Conference Finals foreshadowed the shots that the Dallas Mavericks rained on the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter of a 119-109 win. Dallas led 62-47 after two quarters when a leak in the roof of American Airlines Center delayed the start of the second half; several arena workers dried the court with towels, while other arena workers constructed a makeshift barrier to prevent any more water from falling onto the court. After the arena workers contained the rain, the Mavericks rained eight three pointers on the Warriors in the next 12 minutes, pushing the lead to 99-70 entering the fourth quarter. The Mavericks then sleepwalked through most of the final stanza, forcing Coach Jason Kidd to reinsert his starters. The Warriors cut the margin to 110-102 with 3:23 remaining, but Luka Doncic's driving dunk restored order for the Mavericks, whose lead did not fall below 10 points the rest of the way as the Mavericks posted their first Western Conference Finals win since the team's 2011 championship season.

The Mavericks shot 41-82 (.500) from the field overall, including 20-43 (.465) from three point range. The Mavericks are going to shoot a ton of three pointers no matter what, but the keys to this victory were that the Mavericks won the rebounding battle 45-42 while also scoring efficiently in the paint instead of just relying on feast or famine long range shooting. Doncic, who was named to the All-NBA First Team earlier in the day, led both teams in points (30), rebounds (14), and assists (nine). He did not shoot well from the field (10-26), but he had a +13 plus/minus number in 38 minutes. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 23 points on 9-13 field goal shooting, and he had a game-best +18 plus/minus number. Reggie Bullock (18 points on 6-10 field goal shooting) also had an efficient game. Jalen Brunson chipped in 15 points and five assists with no turnovers. 

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 20 points and eight assists. The Warriors' next two scorers were bench players Jonathan Kuminga (17 points) and Jordan Poole (14 points). The Warriors' starters lacked energy and urgency, but the bench players keyed a huge fourth quarter rally in which Golden State outscored Dallas 39-20; bench players scored 32 of the Warriors' 39 points. During that big run, the Warriors played a zone defense and the Mavericks went cold from three point range, shooting just 1-7 from beyond the arc in the final 12 minutes. The Warriors shot 15-20 (.750) from the field in the fourth quarter, including 4-4 on three pointers. The Mavericks have a disturbing pattern of not playing much defense if their shots are not falling. Nevertheless, even though the ending was a bit shaky the Mavericks got the job done and extended the series.

The Mavericks overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the Utah Jazz in the first round before overcoming a 2-0 hole to knock off the number one seeded Phoenix Suns in the second round. Those comebacks are impressive, but not unprecedented. Are the Mavericks content to not be swept in the Western Conference Finals, or are they stubborn enough to try to make history and become the first NBA team to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0? The Mavericks do not have to win three games at once. They have to win one game at a time three times, and in order to win game five on the road they must attack the paint on offense while controlling the boards at both ends of the court. The odds are that the Warriors will close out the series at home, but if this series returns to Dallas for game six then things will start to get interesting.

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:37 AM



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