The Golden State Warriors have been there, done that.
And that’s what it felt like on Thursday (AEST) as they shut down Luka Doncic, and the rest of the Dallas offence, and took Game 1 112-87 in San Francisco.
Determined to prove their dynasty simply had a small break, and didn’t actually come to an end, the Warriors took another step towards the NBA Finals with a dominant performance in the Western Conference decider.
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Thu, 19 May
Thursday May 19th
The narrative going into the game was centred around the Warriors having no-one who could do anything to stop Doncic, who was averaging 31.5 points per game this post-season.
But the Warriors, particularly Andrew Wiggins, did a brilliant job on the 23-year-old, who appeared frustrated and fatigued after being hunted on the defensive end.
Doncic finished with just 20 points, and was shut down in the second half – scoring just two points – after loading up in the first, while Dallas’ volume three-point shooting failed, with the Mavericks going 11-for-48 from deep.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Doncic had more turnovers (seven) than made field goals (six) for the first time in his post-season career.
“He’s just showing everybody what he’s capable of in terms of impacting winning,” Steph Curry said of Wiggins, who played with an aggression on both ends that isn’t always there.
“We’re asking him to take on that challenge (guarding Doncic), be aggressive offensively, just stay consistent with that … Game 1, he stepped up.
“I’m happy for him. After eight years in the league, this is his moment. “
For the Warriors, Curry, who didn’t even have to play in the fourth quarter, got going in the third, and finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists, while Wiggins (19 points), Jordan Poole (19 points ), and Klay Thompson (15 points, all in the second half) all produced.
Kevon Looney and Draymond Green scored 10 apiece, as every Golden State starter hit double digits.
The Mavericks’ defense had looked elite in the playoffs to this point, but they face a different test in a Golden State team that prioritises ball movement, rather than the pick and roll offence they faced against Utah and Phoenix.
In the series opener, Dallas looked somewhat out of sorts chasing the likes of Curry, Thompson, and Pool around screens, as Golden State tallied 24 assists, and dominated the boards.
“We had a specific game-plan coming in, and for the most part, we executed it. It’s going to take that same effort three more times to beat this team. “
An 8-0 run to begin the fourth ultimately iced the game as Dallas head coach Jason Kidd called time-out with the Mavs trailing 96-69.
And after keeping starters in the game, Kidd finally pulled the plug down 104-76 with just over five minutes left.