• Warriors-Mavericks Series Coverage Complete
San Francisco – The Warriors didn’t waste The Kevon Looney Game and didn’t spend time flipping Switch and Mavericks in the process. Here are the 5 highlights of Game 2 and how the Warriors can win two in the NBA Finals.
1. Kevon was on
Let’s give him a decent round of applause. Kevon Looney was the most valuable player on the floor of the Warriors from start to finish. It’s time to consider the role that triggered his comeback with his inner bucket, rebounds, big third quarter, and how Draymond Green took the slack when he got into foul play (and eventually fouled out). Was it the real MVP chant you heard in the second half? Of course it was.
And let’s go one step further. Looney is having a solid postseason, including 22 rebound games in the Memphis series. But let’s get back to Friday’s 21-point, 12-rebound signature performance. Looney was always in a position to get feedback from his teammates and made 10 of 14 shots. To say this is Looney’s most impressive offensive output would be an understatement. He is averaging 4.7 points in the NBA and hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a game since his freshman year at UCLA.
… The Mavericks’ biggest weakness, the Mavericks, offer little or no in terms of heavyweight resistance. They made him look like Kevon Olajuwon. Starting center Dwight Powell went 7 minutes without a goal. And on a per-minute basis, Maxi Kleber was actually worse, with one (no typo) rebounds (three points) in 33 minutes. At one point, Kleber desperately reached out and grabbed Looney in a layup attempt. This probably shocked Looney more than anything else. He was, um, unstoppable.
“He found a way to influence the game,” said Steph Curry. “He has the composure, experience and know-how.”
Looney helped the Warriors get 62 points in paint. He is also the first Warriors center to post a 20-10 playoff game since Robert Parish in 1977. This says a lot about the old Warriors center. But at least a little about Kevon in this game tonight. It doesn’t matter that he probably won’t score another 20 in this series. When they needed it, he supplied it.
“I feel grateful to be part of this team and now I have a real opportunity to make a difference and help this team win,” he said.
2. Mavs Made 3
It happened suddenly and quickly. We’re talking about Mavs’ hot and cold relationship with his long shot. Coach Jason Kidd predicted that a team that threw 48 hits and 11 hits in Game 1 would eventually be open like that, and it was the same in Game 2. Look no further why the Mavericks lead by 19 points.
But the third quarter was a total foul. Dallas had two hits and 13 hits and when that shot didn’t go down, Dallas panicked and forgot how to score another way.
Kidd said: “We have to understand that when we shoot 3/4 (3) and miss, we have to go to the rim, put the ball into the paint and hit the free throw line. If you go 2-13 and rely on 3, you can die by it and we are dead in the 3rd quarter.”
One reason the Warriors won was that the Golden State didn’t always rely on 3s. The Warriors reached the rim and balanced it with their lost paint presence in Dallas.
You might be wondering if Mavericks has that type of employee. Aside from Doncic, Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie (Dinwiddie was noticeably milder on Friday), Dallas has no producers. And it was shown in the second round.
3. The Warriors Guard Was Too Fast for Dallas
This has been consistently proven on Friday and even in the first game. Curry is attacking the rim as many as three-pointers. Jordan Pool is also taking his players off the dribble. They totaled 55 runs in Game 2 and devastated Dallas during the second half.
This comes as a bit of a surprise and a turnaround in the final round when the Mavs suppressed the last two games of the series and frustrated Chris Paul for almost the entire series. If the Mavs didn’t limit those two, they wouldn’t be playing Warriors right now.
And if the Mavericks plan to claim this series by winning 4 of 5 games, they should recapture the same formula they did against the Phoenix. Except for the first quarter of Game 1, Curry was sizzling and Poole didn’t lose quality or impact when he came out of the bench.
They combined 22 and shot 6 or 7 in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors fully retreated. In that sense, Curry and Poole were a solid finish and did not allow the Mavs to remix.
Of course, the great thing about this scenario is that Poole’s confidence remains high. This is the first significant game in his short NBA career. Remember last February he was in the G-League. Ever since Klay Thompson took on a bigger role while recovering from an injury, Poole wasn’t afraid of the moment or the challenge.
“When Steph comes off the floor, the defense tends to focus a bit on me. So I just keep playing aggressively. Not only trying to play for my teammates, but looking for more shots to keep the rhythm going.” he said
The longer he maintains that attitude and bucket count, the Warriors don’t have to sweat Klay Thompson’s discrepancy. Pools might be a better late game option.
4. Luca is back in trouble
Remember the defense the Warriors threw at him in Game 1? This time it wasn’t very effective. Doncic did what he wanted: isolate, draw fouls, break the defense, and get the bucket.
“It’s tough,” said Warriors manager Steve Kerr. “Doncic is an amazing player. With such a good person, you are trying to limit the easy things.”
You might wonder if he does as much damage as the 42 points suggest. Doncic was minus 12 on the night and scored a lot after Golden State had a good chance in the middle of the fourth inning.
Still: 42 is 42. And he did so with his shoulder with some discomfort. Doncic remains the most important player on the floor. That said, he will, more than anyone else, dictate how this series plays out. The Mavericks had complete control when he started strong with 18 points in the first quarter. Because the Golden State defense had to respect Luka so they kept their teammates open.
Aside from the third quarter, what is disappointing for Dallas is how the Mavs can lose despite Doncic and Brunson’s 73 points. And 117 points is enough.
“Aggressively, I think we were fine,” Doncic said. “We need to improve the defense a lot.”
5. The Warriors Are Here, They Made It
The experience factor greatly favors the Golden State, mainly because of the champion bloodlines of Curry, Green and Thompson. Some of those experiences are reflected in their home matches, where they are currently 8-0 in the playoffs. A simple calculation is that if this streak continues, the Warriors will not only win the Western Conference Finals by remaining unbeaten at home, but they will also win the championship if Miami doesn’t come out of the East.
Of course, it’s not that simple. And the Warriors will definitely see an unfriendly atmosphere in Dallas in their next two games.
“We’ve seen what Dallas can do in the last few weeks,” Kerr said. “They lost 2-0 to Phoenix and came back in 7 minutes to win. Dallas is a really tough environment and a great home court.”
But the Warriors pose a tough challenge for the Mavericks. The goal is to beat the more proven team in the second straight series. That could be asking a lot for the Dallas team, who reached the conference finals for the first time with Doncic.
For the Mavericks, if they want to keep the court at home, they make three points, Doncic dominates, and the Mavericks need to rediscover their defensive skills. Without it the Warriors would bring too many like Curry, Poole, Draymond, Thompson… and now Looney.
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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can email him here and find and follow the archives here. Twitter.
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