If there’s any team suited to put out the fire of one of the hottest squads in the league, it’s the Warriors. Let’s hope you spent your Wednesday watching this game, because it was a fun one.
Dennis Smith Jr. came out attacking early, notching five points and two assists within the first five minutes of the game as the Mavs jumped to a 13-11 lead. The Warriors inevitably scored the basketball well, shooting 57 percent from the field, including 43 percent from three and going a perfect 10-of-10 at the line all in the first quarter. Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with six points each, but Kevin Durant and and Steph Curry pumped in 10 and 15 points respectively as the Warriors took a 35-26 lead after one.
The Mavericks best lineup trimmed the lead to as little as 3 in the early stages of the second as Dirk hit a couple of vintage shots and Dwight Powell hit a corner three! But Powell wasn’t done there. After the Warriors threatened to push the lead when Durant and Curry checked back in, the Mavs kept it close thanks in large part to Powell. Through one half the polarizing forward scored 14 points and was a huge reason why the Mavs trimmed a 12 point deficit to as little as one. But just as the sun rises, the Warriors went on a little run on the back of Durant. Thankfully for Dallas, Smith Jr. came alive after a quiet second quarter with a thunderous dunk and followed it up with a three pointer to keep the Mavs within striking distance. Curry only scored five points in the quarter, but still led the Warriors with 20 while Powell led the Mavericks with 14 in a high scoring first half as the Warriors led 67-61.
The teams stayed true to form for much of the third quarter. The Warriors would flex their muscles a bit, and the Mavs would slowly inch back to within a few possessions. Wesley Matthews caught fire knocking down a few timely shots to keep the Mavericks close. The Mavericks finally took the lead at 84-83 after a Harris three pointer until Durant knocked in his first three pointer of the night to put the Warriors back on top. After trading buckets for the final few minutes Dwight Powell knocked in two free throws to tie the game up at 89, giving him a team-high 16 points. Patrick McCaw then responded with a wild layup at the buzzer giving the Warriors a 91-89 lead headed into the fourth.
The Warriors raced out to an eight point lead at the start of the fourth quarter off of McCaw offensive rebounds and Klay Thompson jumpers until an and-one from Devin Harris finally stopped the 11-3 run dating back to the 89-89 tie in the third quarter. But as Dallas had done all game, they chipped away at every Warriors lead to be within five as the Warriors lead 104-99. The Mavericks kept swinging with threes from players like Wesley Matthews and Yogi Ferrell, keeping every Warriors run at bay. The Mavericks trimmed the lead to as little as two with about a minute to go after a Wesley Matthews three off a loose ball scramble. After forcing a miss, the Mavs tied the game on a Barnes jumper with 39 seconds. Out of the timeout, Draymond Green found a cutting Thompson who spun the ball in, giving him 25 on the night. The Mavs answered with a Barnes layup tying the game up. But the Warriors had an answer in Curry who hit a three with 3 seconds remaining. It was dagger shot after the Mavs gave every ounce of energy into just keeping the game close.
The Warriors snapped the Mavs four game win streak moving on to 30-8 on the season, while the Mavs dropped to 13-26. Curry led the Warriors with 32, while Matthews paced Dallas with 22 (including 7-of-10 from deep).
The Mavs are ... perplexing
On one hand, these are the same Mavericks who have lost twice to Atlanta and dropped one to the lowly Kings among other horrifying losses. And on the other hand, these are the Mavericks that have beaten the Spurs, Raptors and Thunder. And tonight, the Mavs went shot for shot with the Warriors for 48 minutes. The Warriors biggest lead was only 12, and the lead changed 8 times. Every time it felt like the Warriors were going to run the Mavs out of the gym, Dallas answered.
Dallas is probably better than their record indicates, but they seem to play to the level of their opponent, for better or for worse. Tonight, they took the defending champs to the final seconds and were beaten by a dagger three pointer from the greatest shooter in NBA history. Not only did Curry have 32 points, but Durant had 25, Thompson had 25 and Green had 18/10/6. If you had told me those players would produce that much, the Warriors would score 125, but it would take a Curry three at the end to win it, I would have called you crazy.
The Mavs can be really frustrating, but they can also be really fun.
It’s no secret teams need to be near perfect in order to beat the Warriors, and the Mavs are no exception. Already on opposite ends of the spectrum of the talent pool, the Mavs need just about everything to go right in order to beat Golden State, and tonight it almost happened, except for the turnovers. On the night they only turned it over 13 times, which is good. The problem was the Warriors scored 20 points off those turnovers. Twenty extra points the Mavs could not spare to give! With about 5:20 left and the Mavs down seven J.J. Barea lost the ball which led to a Klay Thompson three. That’s at least a five point swing, and a lot to overcome for the Mavericks who were clawing and scratching to keep up every time the Warriors made a run. Then, with about 3:20 left, Smith Jr. turned the ball over which led to a Curry layup. It’s the same scenario. With the Mavs going blow for blow trying to keep up, points off turnovers were extremely demoralizing.
Ultimately, the Mavericks didn’t cough it up an egregious amount of times, but when they did, it was costly. Teams can’t afford to give Warriors extra points, and tonight, the Mavs did just that and it proved to be a lot to overcome.
Other game notes:
- The Mavericks bench was superb. Led by a season-high 21 points from Powell, the good guys outscored the bad guys bench 51-18.
- The final play of the game was disheartening. With a timeout and foul to give the Mavs looked completely out of sorts. Green set a high ball screen for Curry, and Dirk couldn’t have been within 10 feet of the greatest shooter the league has ever seen. At the very least, Ferrell should have fouled since they had one to give, but instead he got slammed into the screen. It was too easy for the Warriors, and the Mavericks sealed their fate with poor decisions in the final seconds.