Down 2-0 in the Western Conference finals, the Dallas Mavericks have an aggressive game plan for Game 3 at home on Sunday night: Keep firing.
The Golden State Warriors’ reaction? Bring it on.
One game after the Mavericks died by the 3-pointer, as Jason Kidd admitted, the first-year Dallas coach promised more of the same in an attempt to break into the win column in the best-of-seven series.
“We play defense when we play offense, and we play no defense when we can’t score,” Kidd said after Friday’s 126-117 defeat at San Francisco. “If you make (3-pointers), that’s great. But you just have to understand: If you miss four in a row, you can’t take the fifth. You’ve got to make it. That just puts too much stress on yourself and on your team because, if you’re not getting stops on the other end, it turns into a blowout.”
The Warriors scorched the Mavericks with a big first quarter in Game 1, shooting 63.2 percent on their end while Dallas was struggling to the tune of 26.9 percent. Something similar happened in Game 2, only it was in the third quarter, when the Mavericks’ 26.3 percent on offense transitioned into Golden State’s 45.5 percent at its end.
The disparity has been equally great from beyond the arc. The Mavericks have attempted 93 3-pointers in the series, 36 more than the Warriors, but have made just eight more.
The Mavs shot 3-for-19 from distance in the first quarter of Game 1 as the game got away early for a 28-18 Warriors lead. It was 2-for-13 from long range in the third period of Game 2 as the Warriors moved from 14-point halftime deficit to trail 85-83 heading into the final quarter.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr noted after Game 2 that his team is much like Kidd’s in terms of offensive/defensive dynamic.
“I always talk about the game; the game is connected,” Kerr said. “The better you play offensively, the defense becomes a little bit easier because your defense is set. You’ve got some confidence; you’ve got a bounce to your step.”
The Warriors, whose small-ball lineup of Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green is one of the most feared in the NBA, have actually dominated the Mavericks around the hoop.
With Golden State big man Kevon Looney making 10 baskets – all from point-blank range – en route to a career-high 21 points in Game 2, the Warriors have outscored the Mavericks 106-62 in the paint in the series.
And with Curry, one of the smallest players on the court, leading the way with a series-best 20 rebounds, Golden State has owned the rebound battle 51-35 in Game 1 and 43-30 in Game 2.
Looney credits a lack of playing time with keeping him fresh for the playoffs. He played the fewest minutes in the NBA this season (1,732) among all players with 60 or more starts (he made 80).
“It’s always something that I dreamed about and envisioned,” Looney said of being an NBA postseason difference-maker. “Always say: Keep working, your time is going to come. Steve always talks about: You’re always going to get an opportunity playing on this team. You have to take full advantage of it.”
The Mavericks won Games 3 and 4 at home in the previous series against the Phoenix Suns after being in a 2-0 hole. Meanwhile, the Warriors have won at least one road game in an NBA-record 25 consecutive series.