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3 thoughts as the Mavericks take on the Warriors in Game 1 to begin the Western Conference Finals

Game 7 was amazing, but there is still work to be done

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks will travel to San Francisco to take on the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are the Mavericks’ first playoff opponent who they have fared well against lately. The Mavericks won three of the four regular season matchups. That is of limited predictive value due to differences in player availability. Essentially everyone of consequence is available for both teams with the exception of Andre Iguodala.

Here are the things to know.

This series is a battle for the soul of basketball

The majority of the current NBA relies on a heavy dose of spread pick and roll run by a heliocentric superstar. The Mavericks have the best player in the world at running that type of system in Luka Doncic. He is indefensible as he has a counter for every option opponents use to try to stop him. He will spend a large portion of this series using screens and rescreens in order to pick out the matchup he likes from a plethora of appealing options.

The Warriors on the other hand are the last remaining team which traces a basketball lineage back to the “golden years” of yesterday. Fans of the classic movie Hoosiers should recognize some principles from that team’s attack which the Warriors share. They grade the success of their offense on the number of passes they throw. They are a constant whir of motion and a completely foreign type of offense.

This series will serve as a referendum on the value of each system as the Warriors also employ the best possible star for that system. Stephen Curry’s cardio is second to none as he is tireless in working off ball screens and relocations. This should be fun to watch beginning in Game 1.

This is a battle of truly elite defenses

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat series is being billed as a battle of elite defenses but it is true of this series as well. The Warriors were the second best defense in the NBA during the regular season and the Mavericks were seventh. The Mavericks’ defense has fallen to 110.5 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs but they have played the first and fifth best offenses in the league. The Warriors finished the regular season 16th in the league in offensive rating and should provide an easier matchup. Either way this should be a series where scoring is at a premium.

The Mavericks must recover from their emotional high

It would be impossible for the Mavericks not to enjoy their Game 7 win. They should enjoy it. But this game begins less than 72 hours after Game 7 ended and the Mavericks cannot afford to give away a game because they had not moved on from the last game. The Mavericks have lost Game 1 of both series thus far, so a loss clearly would not be the end of the world. Still, they must come out ready to play if for no other reason than in order to have an accurate picture of what adjustments they must make.

The Mavericks began as a 5 point underdog per Draftkings. Game 1 is likely the most difficult game of the series for the Mavericks to win but that spread still seems high.

How to watch:

The game begins at 8 p.m. CST and can be viewed on TNT.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

Here’s our most recent Moneyball Minute from Wednesday morning. If you can’t see the embed below, click here or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball podcast.