The Dallas Mavericks fell in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 120-110. Klay Thompson led a balanced Warriors attack with 32 points. Luka Doncic was the high point man for Dallas, scoring 28 but on 28 shots.
The Dallas defense was sloppy to start the game, giving up rim looks and open threes as the Warriors got off to a fast 14-5 start. The Mavericks chipped away at the lead, pulling back within two a pair of times, but Luka Doncic and other Mavericks struggled near the rim with the referees really letting both teams play physically. Doncic shot poorly in the quarter, going just 2 of 10 and the Mavericks found themselves trailing 28-23 through twelve minutes of play.
Golden State kept coming at Dallas with their bench unit (well, really with Steph Curry on the bench), extending the lead slowly. The Warriors pushed the lead all the way to 13 on a Klay Thompson three, forcing a Dallas timeout. Golden State kept coming as Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and Spencer Dinwiddie simply could not score in the paint and the Warriors extended their lead up to 21. Luka Doncic grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of calls and it lead to Warriors scores in the closing minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie’s late threes helped give Dallas some life and the Mavericks went into the half down 69-52.
It somehow got worse in the third quarter for Dallas. A lifeless Maverick team couldn’t score and the Warriors lead by by 25 points with 5:41 to go. Then something wild happened: the Dallas Mavericks went on a massive 22-4 run to end the quarter. Luka Doncic found some offense and the Warriors looked shocked, pretty similar to what happened to Dallas to start the fourth quarter in Game 4. The Mavericks ended up down 94-84 to start the fourth.
The Warriors responded early and with the Dallas Mavericks going small, they could not defend the Warriors or grab rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie kept Dallas in it, getting to the line repeatedly in the first half of the frame. But Dallas could not get over the double digit point bump. After closing it to 10 again near the four minute mark, offensive rebounding by the Warriors put a quick end to any hopes of making it really interesting with second chance points. The Warriors defeated the Mavericks, 120-119
Note that we will likely have some deeper thoughts on the playoffs and on the run later, but my observations will focus primarily on this game.
The Warriors have a depth of talent that far surpasses the Mavericks
When you cover a team with Luka Doncic, anything seems possible. Pair that with the fact that the Golden State Warriors did not look focused for the first two rounds of the playoffs and had an up and down regular season and there were real reasons to think the Mavericks had a chance in this series.
Then, the Warriors found themselves blown out in Game 1, swept the leg against Dallas in Game 2, and then crushed the Mavericks spirit in Game 3. The Mavericks found margins to attack, and they should’ve found a way to win Game 2, but what became clear in this series was how much deeper the Warriors were. They didn’t need a Steph Curry game or a Klay Thompson game to win. Their collective team effort simply wore Dallas down.
Though I will admit losing Game 5 in no small part because of a great offensive game from Draymond Green is hard to swallow.
Defensive miscues and rebounding stamped out any Maverick hopes
The Warriors just keep attacking the rim and without an actual rim protector, Golden State wore the Mavericks out. Golden State outscored the Mavericks by 18 points in the paint (50-32) and while they did have some incredible shot making in the first half (well both halves), it’s really difficult to win if teams are drawing even from three (14 makes for the Warriors, 17 for Dallas). When Dallas went super small, finally, in the fourth, they got killed on the boards, resulting in enough second chance points to put Dallas away for good.
A learning experience for all
Head coach Jason Kidd has said this a time or two in the postgame and I’m sure he’ll note it again tonight as well, but this series and this game was hopefully a learning experience for the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic in particular. Make no mistake, his third quarter run was a valiant effort, but the first half frustrations with the no-calls at the rim deflated Doncic. It’s often a talking point here that gets hand-waved, but in my opinion, as Doncic cannot control the referees, he can control how he reacts to situations.
On the flip side, the stellar performances from role players is really heartening. Spencer Dinwiddie (if we can call him a role player) kept coming. Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber played unafraid and made big baskets. Frank Ntilikina even made a small case for a role down the line, should Dallas be interested.
This was a great season. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. I am delighted and privileged to have covered it here. I am grateful for all of you. We’ll be back in the coming days with more Maverick posts and podcasts. Go Mavs. MFFL.
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.