What is the Mavericks’ reward for upsetting the Suns? How about playing the title favorites?
The Warriors are now the team to beat, according to Vegas. The Mavs will come into this matchup as the underdog again. They were slightly worse than a coin flip to beat the Jazz, and they were supposed to be soundly beat by the Suns.
They will have the best player in the series in Luka Doncic. Will that be enough?
The key matchup
It’s going to be Doncic vs. the world. The Mavericks won the season series 3-1 behind Doncic’s brilliance.
The Warriors threw the kitchen sink of defenders at him in those matchups. Andrew Wiggins got a large brunt of the assignments and couldn’t do much. Draymond Green was available in only one of those games, a blowout loss. Steve Kerr also tried Klay Thompson, Gary Payton II, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Jonathan Kuminga on Doncic. None of them had a shot at slowing him down.
The Warriors had a similar problem stopping Ja Morant in the second round. They have weak defenders that can be hunted, and the Mavs did go matchup-hunting for Doncic at times against the Suns. Jordan Poole is going to be having nightmares about guarding Doncic for years to come.
The key stat
For the Mavericks, the number to monitor is the amount of offensive rebounds they allow. That has been one of their few areas of weakness in the first two rounds.
That’s going to be particularly problematic against the Warriors, who have made a concerted effort to crash the glass in the NBA Playoffs. They don’t have the personnel that you’d necessarily associate with that skill, but their small-ball lineups have been flying around.
Wiggins has shockingly been one of the best offensive rebounders in the postseason. He doesn’t get enough credit for being the guy on the team willing to accept any role.
On the Warriors’ side, they need to cut down their turnovers. That’s an issue that Kerr has bemoaned for years, and they’re turning it over at a higher rate than they ever have. They’ve been mind-bogglingly careless on some of their possessions.
How aggressive will Draymond Green be on offense? He finally shot the ball in the Warriors’ Game 6 win against the Grizzlies, taking a postseason-high 14 field goal attempts. But in the team’s other 10 games, he’s averaged just 5.1 attempts per game and consistently passed up open layups.
Green is always going to bring most of his value as an elite screener, passer and defender. He has to at least keep defenses honest, though.
Spencer Dinwiddie is the Mavericks’ X-factor. The team needs to give Doncic some breaks from doing everything on offense.
Dinwiddie had a fantastic Game 7 performance against the Suns (30 points, 11-of-15 shooting), and he showed how deadly the Mavs can be when they get some scoring punch off the bench.
Warriors vs. Mavericks series schedule
Here is the full schedule for the 2022 Western Conference Finals.
|Date||Game||Time (ET)||TV channel|
|May 18||Game 1||9 p.m.||TNT|
|May 20||Game 2||9 p.m.||TNT|
|May 22||Game 3||9 p.m.||TNT|
|May 24||Game 4||9 p.m.||TNT|
|May 26||Game 5*||9 p.m.||TNT|
|May 28||Game 6*||9 p.m.||TNT|
|May 30||Game 7*||8 p.m.||TNT|
Warriors vs. Mavericks series odds
Here are the odds for the 2022 Western Conference Finals (via DraftKings).
- Warriors: -255
- Mavericks: +215
Warriors vs. Mavericks picks, predictions
The Warriors are the sexy pick, but this isn’t the same team that it was in previous iterations — or even in the beginning of the year.
Curry has been great, but he hasn’t reached quite the elite level of shooting as in previous years. Thompson is still shooting the ball well from 3-point range, but he’s been forcing a lot of pull-up shots inside the line and hasn’t been the same defender post-injuries. Wiggins has seen a huge drop in production since the All-Star game, and Green’s aggression has fallen off a cliff.
On the other side of the ledger, the Mavericks have been slept on all season. They don’t have a great No. 2 behind Doncic, but does it matter when he’s been so brilliant?
The Warriors have a higher ceiling, but they haven’t been crisp in the NBA Playoffs. The Mavs have been playing at an unbelievably high level. I’m going way against the grain here and picking the Mavs in seven.