Kirk: This series has been fantastic and despite three games played I don’t know how I feel about either team. The Warriors are very hurt and the back end of their bench is truly awful. The Raptors are talented in their top seven and coach Nick Nurse is really squeezing the most out of them. The length and versatility of Toronto is eye opening.
For the Mavericks, this series should really highlight the importance of shooting. The Warriors, despite having three of the best shooters ever, simply have no shooting depth. With Kevin Durant and Klay injured, none of the other Warriors are worth guarding away from the hoop. The Mavericks must surround Luka Doncic with better shooters. Additionally, Toronto’s flexibility defensively has been eye opening. All of the Raptors players are willing to switch and most of them are able. The front court in particular has 4 guys who can make an impact. Dallas has such a long way to go on that front
Jordan: Even with the Warriors still reigning over the NBA, having a new team in the finals has been fun to watch. I think rivalries are great, and having LeBron’s Cavs battling Steph’s Warriors was fun in theory...but it was no real match. I hope Golden State can get healthy for the rest of the series because these teams are fun to watch.
I haven’t learned this through the finals, but watching the playoffs in general always reminds these teams are playing a different game than the Mavericks. Like Kirk mentioned, it’s clear the Mavericks need shooting, length, and versatility. Dallas has their two cornerstones, and yes that’s the toughest task. But depth and versatility (particularly in positions 2-4) has to be the focus this summer if they want to even challenge for a playoff spot.
Doyle: I think the real lesson for the Mavericks is that Quinn Cook is a legitimate NBA player. If you recall, he was briefly on the 2017 Dallas squad. His numbers weren’t terrible, but he never seemed to be put in situations in which he could excel. I’ll never forget watching Russell Westbrook absolutely roast him for several consecutive possessions. Head coach Rick Carlisle just left Cook out there and watch Westbrook feast. It was very much a “welcome to the NBA, random guy on a 10-day contract” moment. Well, now Cook has more NBA Finals experience than any player currently under contract with the Mavs. Good for him.
Josh: This is something I want to expand upon in a larger post, but mainly that the Mavericks desperately, and I mean desperately, need shooters. Watching Steph Curry put on a herculean display while his team lost thanks to none of his teammates being able to shoot gave me PTSD flashbacks to the Mavericks this season after the trade deadline, where Luka was making brilliant passes to shooters who couldn’t shoot. The Mavericks needs to surround Luka with quality shot makers and the path to the playoffs actually might come from building a strong offense rather than defense.
It’s also reinforced the no-brainer belief that the Mavericks need to keep adding range-y wings to their roster. Easier said than done, as the whole league wants to do that, but the Mavericks really can’t afford to keep adding small guards anymore. If they’re ready to win with Luka and Kristaps now, they need to build a roster that can support “small but not actually small” lineups like the Raptors and Warriors (healthy) can.
Brice: The importance of depth has been highlighted in this series; specifically the need for shooting around the focal point of the offense. Somehow the Warriors got to a point where they don’t have enough shooting. Steph Curry is the ultimate space generator but him and Quinn Cook aren’t enough to create the spacing needed for an effective offense against a defense as good as Toronto.
The Mavericks don’t have a Steph Curry, or a Klay Thompson, or a Kevin Durant, and at this point their bench is only marginally better at shooting than the Warriors. This finals is showing the importance of filling a roster with as many shooting wings as you can get.
A lesson Dallas perhaps learned from the Raptors is the importance of cashing in assets for a star when an opportunity presents itself. Free agency is a crap shoot and the Mavericks have learned that lesson enough to the point that it might have finally sunk in. Swinging big for Porzingis was absolutely the right move and in spite of the risks this team deserves praise for pouncing quickly when the opportunity arose