The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Golden State Warriors 109-100 on Sunday night in Dallas in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Luka Doncic had 40 points and 11 rebounds. Jalen Brunson put up 20 points and five rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 26 points off the bench. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 31 points, and Andrew Wiggins scored 27 and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The game started off as a rock fight, with both teams struggling to hit shots. Neither team shot well from deep, and the Warriors zone defense continued to flummox the Mavericks in the first quarter. Golden State attacked the rim relentlessly and took the lead. A Doncic 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the margin to just three points.
The Mavericks got more aggressive in the second quarter, led by Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie probed the paint over and over again, keeping the Mavericks in the game until Doncic returned. At one point in the second quarter, Dinwiddie was the Mavericks leading scorer. Doncic and Jalen Brunson took over midway through the second quarter, combining for 14 points. They pushed the Mavericks to a nine point lead.
But the Warriors roared back and went on a 10-0 run, capped by a Curry 3-pointer to take the lead, 43-42. The teams traded buckets for the last few minutes of the half. The Mavericks were able to cut into the Warriors lead and went into halftime down 48-47.
The Warriors didn’t come out on fire after halftime, shooting only 2-of-5 from behind the arc in the third quarter. But their defense strangled the Mavericks’ offense. Dallas had no answer for the Warriors 3-2 zone, or the box-and-one. The Warriors confused and frustrated the Mavericks, and slowly built a ten point lead going into the fourth.
The Mavericks refused to let the game get out of hand, but they could never make a run in the fourth. They just couldn’t put together enough stops to make a significant push. They got as close as five points late in the fourth, but never really threatened to overtake the Warriors. Golden State just outexecuted and outhustled Dallas all night.
Here are three things from the game:
The Mavericks created good shots, but they didn’t hit them.
Dallas has created great looks for their shooters in this series, but so far they haven’t gone down. Tonight was no different. The Mavericks were 6-of-25 from behind the arc in the first half. Things didn’t improve in the second half, and the Mavericks finished the game shooting 13-of-46 on 3-pointers.
All the best shots in the world won’t matter if they don’t actually go in the hoop. Only Brunson shot well from deep, going 3-of-6. But the Mavericks have to get more from their role players who take those deep shots. Finney-Smith and Bullock shot 2-of-12 combined from deep. Maxi Kleber was an outright disaster, shooting 0-of-5 on three’s and passing up several wide open shots. It was obvious he was thinking too much about missing, rather than just letting the ball fly. Right now the strategy is simple for the Warriors—let Luka get his buckets, and hope that his teammates can’t cash in on the open shots he creates.
The Warriors found other ways to score when their shots didn’t fall.
Golden State struggled from deep almost as much as the Mavericks did. The Warriors shot 34% from deep, while the Mavericks shot 29%. That Warriors percentage is a little misleading, as they hit some late 3-pointers to improve the number. They were only shooting 29% from deep through the first three quarters. The Mavericks even shot nine more free throws than the Warriors, and turned the ball over four less times. It didn’t matter.
The Warriors ground out points in other ways, then eventually started hitting those deep shots. They dominated the boards, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds to the Mavericks’ seven. That led to an 18-4 advantage in second chance points. They attacked the rim all 48 minutes, outshooting the Mavericks 27-16 at the rim. They just manufactured points all game, and it was deflating to watch. I can only imagine how the Mavericks players felt.
The Mavericks look tired
When you’re tired on a basketball court, everything gets harder. Shots don’t fall. Loose balls start going to your opponent. You get pushed off all your spots. The ball just slips out of your hands on rebounds. Nothing goes right.
Sounds like the Mavericks tonight, right? The Dallas rotation has been short all postseason. They’ve essentially played seven players, and Dwight Powell’s minutes have steadily declined. Bullock and Finney-Smith have born the bulk of those heavy minutes, and it’s starting to look like they’re struggling. Bullock, Finney-Smith, and Brunson are all in the top five in minutes played this postseason. Doncic hasn’t played the same amount of minutes, but the load he carries in games is probably exhausting.
The Dallas defensive scheme is taxing. The Warriors run and cut constantly. With so much going against them, it’s not surprising that the Mavericks looked so tired.
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