In the flurry of pre-series coverage, I forgot the most obvious one until just now. Here’s where our staff sits on series predictions:
Matthew: The Mavericks win in 6 but a 6 that feels like it should be five. Luka Doncic is going to feast but so is Jalen Brunson. The Mavericks will make life hard for Stephen Curry who is at worst a top 15 player in the history of basketball. Overall I think people will be shocked at how much the Warriors will struggle to score on what has become a fantastic Mavericks defense.
Ben: This Mavericks team is a roller coaster of emotions. At the beginning of the year, I thought they would be the number two seed. By Christmas, I thought they should blow the team up. In March, I thought they could move up to the number two seed. When they drew the Phoenix Suns in the second round, I knew they would lose in five games at best. I have no idea what is happening. Mavs in six.
Matt: Mavs in 6. Credit where credit’s due, Golden State took care of business, but the way they’ve arrived at the WCF is through a Denver team down 40% of it’s starting lineup and a Memphis squad without Ja (who still managed to put a 50-point beat down on them). In Dallas they face not only a team who is largely healthy, but with role players playing at perhaps the highest level in their careers. Dallas won the regular season series 3-1 including going 2-0 post-Porzingis trade. Dallas has the best half-court offense in the playoffs and are absolutely going to force their pace onto Golden State. Not to mention, the fact remains, there’s simply no one who’s going to put a lid on Luka Doncic.
Jordan: Before Game 7 I was asked by friends to make a prediction. I was too scared to ride the fact that the Mavericks had the best player in the series so I hedged. Silly me. Silly us. Silly life. Luka will be the best player. But the series is probably decided by pace. These two teams want to play exact opposites, and the Warriors are good at creating a frenetic energy. But the Mavericks are in a zone. They’ve never faced a test like this, a team with this sort of postseason pedigree. Still, I like the Mavs in 6.
David: The Mavericks have an excellent matchup with Golden State. The Warriors turn it over a lot and the Mavericks take care of the ball. In the playoffs, when every possession matters, that could be the difference in one or two games. Golden State has no way of stopping Luka, Brunson, and Dinwiddie at the same time so I see Dallas taking this series in 5 games, with all the momentum on their side.
Josh: For whatever reason, the Warriors don’t bring with them the same existential dread that the Suns did in the previous round. Maybe that’s because of how streaky the Warriors looked at times in the second half of the season, while the Suns were the only team winning more than the Mavericks down the stretch. Maybe it’s because the Mavericks won three out of the four regular season matchups, as opposed to the Suns where they had lost nine straight. Maybe it’s because Steph Curry looks as mortal as he’s ever been, posting career lows in shooting for a full season and coming off a Memphis series where he shot 42 percent overall and 32.6 percent from three. Maybe it’s because of how dominant the Mavericks looked in the final five games of the series against the Suns, where despite the seven game series, the Mavericks did not “eek” out a victory — they dominated Phoenix after Game 2. Those are all very fine reasons to feel extremely confident, before we even get to the actual matchups, which seem on paper much better to manage for Dallas compared to the last series.
Despite all of that though, these are the Warriors. The Steph, Klay, Draymond core when healthy show the same flashes that powered this group to a league record 73 wins and a handful of titles. In the first two rounds, the Mavericks played teams with heavy playoff baggage and watched them implode as the Mavericks played well. While the Mavericks can very well win this series, it’s doubtful we’ll see the same meltdowns we saw in Utah and in Phoenix. This will be a hotly contested series, with high-level play throughout. That said, this just feels like the Mavericks year. Mavericks in six.
Tim: Mavericks in 7. The Warriors have yet to lose a home game in this playoffs and had the second best home record in the NBA regular season — only one game behind the Phoenix Suns for first. The Mavericks are a very good home team too. So I see this going similar to the series vs Phoenix where both teams protect their home floor until the very last game. It’s going to be a long, back and forth series. But when the best player on the court is wearing your favorite team’s jersey… you have the better chance to win and move on. Mavs in 7.
Luke: Mavericks in 6. The Warriors have championship pedigree and can certainly play at a championship level for stretches, but I haven’t seen it consistently from them yet. Klay Thompson is still trying to get back. Steph hasn’t been great this postseason. They have no rim protectors. Ultimately, I think this comes down to Luka Doncic being the best player in the series and willing the Mavs to win in 6.
Kirk: I’m also going to go Mavericks in 6. I feel really good about where this is going. Of course, that could all change in hurry, but for now, let’s go with it!