The Golden State Warriors take a 1-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals with an emphatic 112-87 win in Game 1 on Wednesday night. They are now 7-0 at home in the playoffs, and will look to remain perfect in Game 2, which is set for Friday night.
After a competitive start to the game, the Warriors grabbed the lead in the middle of the first quarter and never trailed again. Coming out of the break, Stephen Curry caught fire and led a 10-0 run to fully break things open. The onslaught continued throughout the second half as the Warriors led by as much as 30. Curry finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four assists to lead a balanced Warriors attack that had seven double-figure scorers.
Luka Doncic had 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Mavericks in defeat. This was one of the worst offensive performances of the playoffs for the Mavs as they shot 36 percent from the field and a brutal 11 of 48 from 3-point land.
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
1. The third-quarter Warriors are back
During the heyday of this Warriors championship core, they made a habit of breaking games open in the third quarter. They would make adjustments, turn up the intensity and before their opponents knew what was happening they would turn competitive games into blowouts.
In Game 1, they showed they still have that magic. While the Warriors led for the majority of the first half, the Mavericks only trailed by nine at the break and were still well within striking distance. By 7:16 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors were up by 18 and the game was essentially over.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, who both struggled to find their offense in the first half, finally got going in the third, combining for 20 points on 8 of 13 from the field. Early in the frame they powered a 10-0 run in less than two minutes that was the highlight of the night for the Warriors. Once Curry starts dancing, it’s a bad sign for the other team.
2. Warriors’ role players step up
So much has been made about the Mavericks’ supporting cast during the playoffs, but on Wednesday night it was the Warriors’ role players that swung the game. Seven different Warriors scored in double figures, and six of those players had at least five rebounds as well.
It was a true team effort, but Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney deserve some extra recognition for their efforts. Those two were terrific, especially in the first quarter when the likes of Curry, Thompson and Jordan Poole didn’t have much going on offensively. They scored 16 of the Warriors’ 28 first-quarter points, and nearly matched the Mavericks by themselves in that frame. Looney shot a perfect 5 of 5 from the field, and all told, they combined for 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Wiggins also made a real difference on the defensive end. He was tasked with guarding Luka Doncic, and put in an impressive shift against the phenom. With Wiggins leading the way, the Warriors held Doncic to just 20 points on 6 of 18 from the field, which was his lowest scoring and least efficient game of the playoffs.
“I thought Wiggs was fantastic,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He did a fantastic job. Wiggs is just a huge part of our defense and our team.”
3. Mavericks lose their touch from downtown
The Mavericks’ offensive approach is rather simple: space the floor with shooters and play drive-and-kick basketball. Their 40.9 3-point attempts per game are more than any other team in the postseason, and to a large extent they live and die by the 3. In Game 1, they died.
They started off 3 of 19 from downtown in the first quarter, and it didn’t get any better from there, as they finished 11 of 48. This was the least efficient 3-point shooting game of the playoffs for the Mavericks, and came on a night when they set a new franchise record for 3-point attempts in the postseason. That is not a good combination.
While the Mavericks did miss a bunch of open looks, it also felt like they started to settle for 3s as the game went along. While the shot is an important part of their offense, it’s not good when it becomes the only part. The Mavericks only had six attempts at the rim all game, and managed just 32 points in the paint.
Still, as bad as things were in Game 1, the team is confident it can bounce back.
“Our offense is going to come,” Jalen Brunson said. “We’ll be fine on offense. We had a lot of good looks tonight, and if we just trust our work ethic and technique, I’m comfortable with the shots we got tonight.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism