After three consecutive bankruptcies, the Dallas Mavericks have secured their first win in the West Finals. “The Others” finally delivers the long-awaited rain of three, and Dallas steals a real secret behind the Warriors’ success. The findings.
1. Mavs vs. Warriors: The Return of the “Andre”
30 points and an almost triple – it sounds like another spectacular elimination game by Luka Doncic. But the Slovenian, newly selected All-NBA team player, was just one of many gears in the Mavs machine en route to the 119-109 Game 4 victory over Golden State that saved Dallas from sweeping into the Western Conference Finals.
Doncic was aware of that. “These guys are the key to our victories,” he said after the match. By “these guys” he meant, for example, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber, the role players whose support the superstar depends on. So far, this support has hardly been there in the series, the trio had a field shot rate of 30.5 percent and a three-point rate of 31 percent in the first three games. Kleber in particular was in the first three duels, with Golden State looking for its throw (2/14 three-pointers).
Below average is still a positive expression. It should have been clear after the first two playoff rounds that the Mavs role players can do better. And they proved it in Game 4. Finney-Smith was the second-best scorer with 23 points, followed by Bullock (18) and Kleber leading the bank (13). The three hammered 12/20 triples through the trap.
The “others” like the NBA legend and TNTAnalyst Shaquille O’Neal, who likes to call role-players, met the expectations of all observers of this series: If Doncic and Jalen Brunson get support from the center, then Mavs is dangerous. Basketball is so simple sometimes. In the end, eight Mavericks sank at least one three-pointer, the rate of 46.5 percent (20/43) was even weakened in the fourth quarter. It was the hat-trick of the first 36 minutes that gave Dallas a much-needed victory.
“It’s just the way they are, it’s in their DNA,” coach Jason Kidd said, delighted with his role-players’ bounce-back play. And Kleber explained, “I just keep throwing when I’m open. It’s the right decision. I take the throw, like everyone else would do if they were open.”
The issue of “being open” has not been an issue for Dallas so far in the series. According to nba.com/stats In the first three games against Golden State, the Mavs generated 26.7 wide threes per game – but they hit a weak 33.8 percent of them. It was different in Game 4. As Doncic was still looking for his rhythm in the first half (13, 4/14 FG), his teammates were already happily welding triple after triple through the trap, thus enabling Dallas to take a comfortable lead. As Doncic rightly acknowledges, role players are the key to Dallas. And they were there in game 4.
2. Mavs: The casts are still good
Even coach Kidd could not resist the obvious pun as he stared up at the ceiling at the start of the second half. From there, water dripped onto the field through two leaks, resulting in a game delay of just over 15 minutes. There was a storm in Dallas Tuesday night local time, but maybe Mavs just had a finger in it: “We let it rain in the first half …”
Instead of Splash Brothers, it was Mavs who let a rain of three fall over the opponent. In fact, it went so well that even Frank Ntilikina was one of the eight Mavericks mentioned to score from downtown – it was his fourth long-range attack in the entire off-season. But how did the Mavs manage to get so many penalty throws?
The secret goes by the name dribble penetration. Dallas managed to attack the opponent’s zone and then find the open shooter with good passing. This is what happened to Kleber’s first three, or in this example: Run Finney-Smith, corner three Bullock.
The last scene also makes it very clear that the role players not only limited themselves to their role as shooters, but also attacked closer to closeouts. This resulted in either a better throw, as in the Bullock example, or a relatively easy layup for Finney-Smith, as in this case.
“All year long, we talk about it: when we get into the zone, good things happen,” Brunson said. More aggression was a focus for the Mavs in Game 4. Finney-Smith stressed, “We get a great look. We just have to throw with confidence.”