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7 observations after the Dallas Mavericks fell to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1, 112-87

Dallas lost Game 1 against Utah and Phoenix as well

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors - Game One Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks got blown off the floor in San Francisco Wednesday night, falling to the Golden State Warriors 112-87. Steph Curry led a balanced Warrior attack, scoring 21. Luka Doncic was the high point man for Dallas, scoring 20 but only two of those came after half time.

The opening frame was a frenetic and fascinating quarter of basketball, with the Warriors throwing a variety of defensive looks at Luka Doncic and pushing the pace at nearly every opportunity. Offensive rebounds were an early problem for Dallas, with Kevin Looney grabbing three early resulting in second chance points for the Warriors. The Mavericks missed many, many wide open threes and Golden State inched ahead throughout the quarter. Maxi Kleber picked up two fouls in just foul minutes, causing early rotation challenges for coach Jason Kidd. Dallas ended the quarter trailing by double digits, down 28-18.

With Doncic starting on the bench, the Mavericks slowly worked themselves back into the game as the Warriors finally cooled some from the field. An 11-0 run to pull within two points of the Warriors, only to get answered by a Draymond Green and-one. Strong Warrior defense frustrated Spencer Dinwiddie into picking up a technical foul arguing a no-call which sparked a 9-2 Golden State run, putting the Warriors back up by double digits. Luka Doncic hit a pair of threes and Dallas got to the line a few times to curb the lead to nine before halftime. The Mavericks went into half down 54-45.

The Warriors took a quick 17 point lead after the Mavericks got off to a sloppy start. Dallas started to find some offense, but the Maverick defense seemed unable to recover like we’ve seen with regularity throughout the regular season and playoffs. Dallas got beat on cuts all quarter and despite finding some offense, they couldn’t stop the Warriors from getting to the rim at will. Dallas entered the final frame down 88-69.

The final frame didn’t improve much for Dallas, as they couldn’t find any offense and they had lackluster effort on defense. The Mavericks made a few attempts at a run and coach Kidd kept his starters in longer than one might’ve thought considering the score. Both coaches cleared their benches and the Warriors ended the game with a 112-87 victory.

Now, some additional thoughts about the game.

Early open misses led to progressively worse offense as the game wore along

The Dallas offense had really good process in the first quarter, only it didn’t matter because no one could hit open shots. Luka Doncic got into the lane and made the right read, which resulted in 15 three point shots in the quarter. Dallas hit only three. Everyone tightened up from there, which resulted in Doncic trying to do more as the game wore on and the Warriors sending help on drives earlier, which resulted in turnovers and tough looks.

The Warriors are long, but Doncic can still get to the lane and to the rim. The other Mavericks are either going to have to hit their shots, or Dallas is going to have to find different ways of getting Luka the ball closer to the basket.

Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney caused Luka Doncic problems

Wiggins did a very good job funneling Luka into help defense and was very physical with Doncic in a way that bothered him more as the game wore along. Kevon Looney tempted Doncic in the same way DeAndre Ayton did in the previous series in terms of allowing him to shoot the three. He’s also longer and more active than he appears at a casual glance. Add Draymond Green into the mix playing free safety and Doncic has his work cut out for him figuring out passing lanes and the right time to score.

A new look for the defense

It’s pretty obvious looking at the score that the Mavericks got blown off the floor and it happened in a variety of ways. There are going to be crazy makes from Steph Curry and tough shots from Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole. But Dallas can’t get beat on cuts to the rim. The blitzing strategy did not work this game like it did in the regular season (Draymond Green playing in these games is a key reason why).

Every Maverick defender looked lost at one point or another as they got beat by a cut down the lane or a baseline back door cut. Frustrating to watch but hopefully they can clean up some of the sloppiness.

Jalen Brunson’s quietly gone cold from three in the post season

This is a minor thing, relative to the bigger picture of getting blown off the floor, but it felt worth mentioning. In Game 2 against Utah, Jalen Brunson went 6 of 10 from three. In all the other games, including tonight’s loss, he’s 11 of 48 (23%, well off his season average of 37%).

Brunson’s going to keep getting these shots and he has to keep taking them. It’s just something to monitor as we work within the small sample sizes in the postseason.

Maxi Kleber’s bad first half fouls

A lot rests on Maxi Kleber’s shoulders. He’s expected to step off the bench, play solid defense, and hit open threes, while also helping clean up the rebounds. His first half foul problems forces Dallas to play both Dwight Powell and Davis Bertans more than he probably wanted to and it caused some of the defensive cracks which broke the damn in the second half.

Make your free throws

It’s a minor thing in a double digit loss, but the missed free throws were pretty brutal to watch as the Mavericks tried to hang around. They’ve got to hit the free ones against a team capable of scoring like the Warriors.

Spencer Dinwiddie looks to have regained his confidence

Outside of Game 6 in Utah and Game’s 6 and 7 versus Phoenix, Spencer Dinwiddie did not much resemble the player we say in the regular season. Against the Warriors he looked much more like that guy, scoring 17 and getting to the line five times. He doesn’t have to be outstanding every night, but his confidence was clear against Golden State and that wasn’t always the case in the previous two series.

Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.