The Dallas Mavericks host the Golden State Warriors for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night. Dallas has yet to win a game and at this point has to be playing for some pride. No team has ever come back down 0-3 this far in the playoffs, so they need to try to find a sustained effort on both sides of the ball.
At the moment (10 pm CST), the Mavericks are just one point favorites, despite playing at home. The Warriors have the confidence of bettors.
Here’s what I’ll be thinking about leading up to the game:
The second quarter blitz
The Warriors are whipping the Mavericks in the third quarter, winning 89-58 through three games. But quietly, this beating begins in the second quarter around the four minute mark. The Mavericks have allowed the Warriors to score 14, 14, and 15 in the final four minutes of second quarter.
What happens then? Well, I’m glad you asked. Steph Curry comes back after a stint on the bench and is leading an offensive charge that Dallas doesn’t stop through three games. It’s maddening to watch.
Is the Dwight Powell experiment over?
There’s no value in burying Dwight, except to note that he’s not been good in the playoffs. Dallas has won in spite of, not because of, Dwight Powell. He’s out there game after game when Dallas gets off to rough starts.
It’s not a crime that he’s best suited as a bench player once the playoff grind becomes real. He’s been placed in this position and perhaps Jason Kidd will stop with the facade and play Maxi Kleber from the start then go super-small later on. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened these playoffs.
Exhaustion versus swagger
Dallas is tired. The short rotation has worn Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney Smith thin. Dorian actually leads all players (as of this writing) with 631 (!!!) minutes played in the post season, with Reggie right behind at 610. Jalen Brunson is fourth at 565 for comparison and Steph Curry has 471 minutes played.
The Warriors are not tired, in fact given the performance from Steph Curry the other night, paired with the rest of the roster, one could reasonably argue they have found their best basketball at the exact right time.
And yet, I can’t imagine Dallas getting swept. This team has a great deal of pride. They are utterly desperate. Let’s see which trait wins out.
How to watch
You can watch the broadcast on TNT at 8:00 CST.