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Monday, May 23, 2022

Warriors Defeat Mavericks in Dallas to Take Commanding 3-0 Lead in Western Conference Finals

The Golden State Warriors are poised to make their sixth trip to the NBA Finals in the past eight seasons after defeating the Dallas Mavericks 109-100 to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. The Mavericks led 42-33 with 3:58 remaining in a low scoring, back and forth first half, but the Warriors went on a 10-0 run in less than two minutes to reclaim the lead. The Warriors led 48-47 at halftime, and they never trailed in the second half. 

Stephen Curry led the Warriors in scoring with 31 points, and he also had a game-high 11 assists. Andrew Wiggins, who is arguably the series MVP thus far, not only scored 27 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds, but he had a team-best +22 plus/minus number. The Warriors deliberately match his minutes with Luka Doncic's minutes, and Wiggins has been the primary defender against Doncic. Wiggins has not shut down Doncic--it is very difficult to shut down any elite scorer--but he has made Doncic work, and he has been solid enough defensively that the Warriors have not had to overly compromise their defense against other players. Klay Thompson did not shoot well (6-18 from the field), but he chipped in 19 points and seven rebounds while also playing excellent defense. Draymond Green (10 points, five rebounds, five assists), and Jordan Poole (10 points, five rebounds) did not post gaudy box score numbers, but they each contributed to the collective effort at both ends of the court that has proven to be too much for the Mavericks to match.

Doncic scored a game-high 40 points on 11-23 field goal shooting, including 4-9 from three point range. He attacked the hoop aggressively, and he shot 14-17 from the free throw line. Doncic had a team-high 11 rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie poured in 26 points in just 32 minutes off of the bench, and Jalen Brunson added 20 points, but the other six Mavericks who played scored just 14 combined points. Most notably, Reggie Bullock scored no points on 0-10 field goal shooting, and Maxi Kleber scored no points on 0-5 field goal shooting. The Mavericks shot 30-75 (.400) from the field overall, including 13-45 (.289) from three point range.

For the past several years, the Warriors have often been depicted as a team that relies on three point shooting, but in fact the Warriors--when healthy and at their best--are a well-rounded team. In game three, the Warriors outrebounded the Mavericks 47-33, and the Warriors outscored the Mavericks 46-34 in the paint. The Warriors enjoyed advantages in both categories in their game two win. The series has been competitive at times, but the Warriors' 3-0 lead indicates that they are the superior team. No NBA team has come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win a playoff series, and based on what has happened thus far in this series there is little reason to believe that Dallas will become the first team to accomplish that feat.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:26 AM



At Monday, May 23, 2022 3:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

outcome was never in doubt today, Mavs just don't have much outside of Luka, Jalen, and Dinwiddle.

I'm thinking the Suns would have been a much tougher opponent.

At Monday, May 23, 2022 1:36:00 PM, Anonymous Cyber said...

Starting to think the Suns series was a fluke. We know Chris Paul has a tendency of blowing 2-0 leads vs inferior teams so that isn't fluky but Mavericks hitting nearly 40% of their 3s on an insane amount of attempts (around 40 I think, far more than Suns attempted) seems very unsustainable especially when 4 of those were road games. I know Suns had off court issues as well and will likely look a different team next season because of it

I'm not a fan at all if the high variance of the 3 ball. I understand why they attempt so many but an open 10-15 feet midrange shot has never been easier to find than in today's game and it doesn't get utilized enough by most of today's top shot creators

Interestingly enough Wiggins has the highest plus/minus and Doncic the lowest plus/minus which we know is because of the way the Warriors have staggered Wiggins' minutes, he probably won't have the box score to win that new WCF MVP award (not a fan of it especially when we have 74 years of no one winning this award) but he should be the pick so far, he's definitely not getting enough credit for his play this series

At Monday, May 23, 2022 2:03:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

One interesting contrast between the Warriors and the Suns is that the Warriors' offense is much more sophisticated and versatile than the Suns' offense. Many people--including me--wrongly assumed that since the Mavericks defended well against the highly ranked Suns' offense they could also defend well against the Warriors' offense. The Mavericks are having great difficulty guarding the Warriors, which in turn has negatively impacted the Mavericks' offense in at least two ways: 1) the Mavericks are taking the ball out of the net instead of attacking in the open court after getting defensive rebounds and (2) Jason Kidd noted that when the Mavericks' defense falters their offense also falters (this has more to do with playoff experience/mental focus than a specific strategy or tactic).

Anyone who reads my articles knows that I am not a fan of relying too much on the three point shot. I was (wrongly) impressed by Dallas' defense against the Suns.

I have singled out Wiggins' value in my game recaps, but I agree that his play will probably be ignored as we are subjected to paeans about Curry's "gravity."

At Tuesday, May 24, 2022 2:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think that they key to defending the Warriors' offense is? Memphis and Dallas were two very different breeds of Top 5 defenses but Golden State shredded Dallas for three games and went hot and cold against Memphis with three great offensive games and three comparatively poor ones.

Boston and Miami are more similar to Memphis than they are to Dallas but do you think either has any advantages that would make them a bigger riddle to solve than the Grizzlies were, or should we just steel ourselves for a summer of "gravity" talk and KD slander?

It is easy to forget that Golden State was the league's top ranked defense this season and if they can short-circuit the Memphis, Dallas, and Denver offenses to the extent they did I don't have high hopes for the less-sophisticated Miami and Boston attacks.

I guess the key is to win the possession battle but even with Golden State's turnover fetish that is difficult to do without winning the rebounding battle and Golden State was able to outrebound the league's best rebounding team five out of six games against Memphis and has kept up that strategy and intensity against Dallas so I am skeptical how realistic of a strategy that is for Boston (4th best) or especially Miami (22nd).

If a team could combine Miami's knack for forcing turnovers with Boston's rebounding I'd like their chances but neither team is great at both, and they are likely to be entering the Finals with disadvantages in both team health and amount of rest unless Golden State farts around too much closing out the Mavericks.

At Tuesday, May 24, 2022 2:52:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


It starts with punishing the Warriors with size at the other end of the court, wearing them down physically and getting them in foul trouble. The Celtics with Horford, Williams III, and Tatum have a lot of effective size up front.

I would guard Curry with a bigger and/or stronger player. I would not send two players at him unless it was a full trap designed to smother him and force him to make a non-scoring pass (i.e., not a pass to a cutter or to Green but a pass to someone in a non-threatening position who has to make at least one more pass before the defense is threatened). I would pressure all of the Warriors' ballhandlers and I would implore the weak side defenders to bump cutters to prevent back cuts (how much they can get away with that depends on how the game is being called).

Basically, the best way to attack the Warriors is size and physicality at both ends of the court.

The Warriors are a very good team, but size bothers them, and they can be worn down.

This healthy version of the Warriors is of course better than the less than fully healthy team we saw during most of the regular season, but this team is not as good as the 2017-18 squads led by Durant. I am not convinced that this team is as good as the 2015 championship team, but I may be proven wrong about that.


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