Many thought that one of these teams would be in the Western Conference Finals this season, but the other surprised many with the lone upset win of the postseason in the last round.
The Dallas Mavericks, coming off their monumental victory in seven games over the Phoenix Suns, will take on the Golden State Warriors in this year’s Western Conference Finals, a matchup that should be filled with high-level play from some of the league's best stars.
Dallas is back in the conference finals for the first-time since they won their only title in 2011 and this is in large part because of Luka Doncic.
At just 23-years-old, Doncic has ascended himself to greatness and it is not hard to name him one of the Top-5 players in the entire world right now. What he has done for the Mavericks in such a short period of time is remarkable and he has his team playing with a ton of confidence right now.
Against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Mavericks found themselves in an early 0-2 hole in this series and many began to question whether or not they would win a game!
Well, Dallas went on to win four of the next five games against the Suns and they did so in dramatic fashion. Being down 2-3 on their home court in Game 6, the Mavericks beat the Suns by 27 points and then they flat out embarrassed the best team in the league out in the desert, beating them in Game 7 by 33 points after leading by as many as 46 points!
A top-tier defensive team led by one of the best offensive talents in the entire league, the Dallas Mavericks are definitely no “pushover” heading into a series with an NBA Finals berth on the line.
As for the Golden State Warriors, this is familiar territory for them, as they have now reached the Western Conference Finals for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.
On a quest to win yet another title, the Warriors have their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole healthy and ready to go for the Western Conference Finals.
They took down the young and hungry Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Semifinals in six games and with all of the scoring weapons they have, the Mavericks will have their hands full trying to stop the Warriors.
A classic matchup of one of the league’s best defensive teams versus one of the league’s best offensive teams, here is what we should expect to see starting on Wednesday night.
Spencer Dinwiddie Is Now A Focal Point Of Dallas’ Offense
Luka Doncic was the Mavericks’ and has been the Mavericks’ most valuable player in these playoffs. However, their most important player is not Doncic, it is Spencer Dinwiddie.
At the trade deadline this season, the Mavs traded former All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis for Dinwiddie in a deal many questioned at the time.
Now, the veteran point guard is really starting to prove his worth to Dallas, as he is coming off back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns in which he scored 15 points and 30 points off-the-bench, respectively.
Against the Suns, Dinwiddie averaged 11.4 points per game off-the-bench and he shot 16-31 (51.6%) from three-point range, capping off this series with a 30-point, five made threes performance.
He may not be the most mobile guard in the league and is definitely not the best shooter, but Spencer Dinwiddie is playing some of the best basketball he has played all year right now and his three-point shooting is what could really elevate the entire Mavericks' offense in this series.
Outside of Luka Doncic, scoring production has been inconsistent for Dallas this season and if Dinwiddie is going to continue shooting 50% from deep off-the-bench, this opens up so many new scoring opportunities for the Mavericks since the Warriors will have to tighten up their defense on him out on the perimeter.
Luka Doncic is the leader of this team, but for the Mavericks to have a chance at making the NBA Finals, Spencer Dinwiddie will have to continue to be the “X-factor” for them on offense.
Jordan Poole Will Bounce-Back
In the Warriors’ first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, Jordan Poole really emerged as an elite-level scoring option, averaging 21.0 points per game and shooting 45.3% from three-point range.
However, in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies, Poole struggled after the first few games of this series. Through the first three games against Memphis, the young guard averaged 26.0 points on 42.9% shooting from deep, but in the final three games, he averaged just 9.7 points on 17.6% from deep.
Against the Dallas Mavericks, Jordan Poole will and needs to bounce back, especially since he has proven to be the difference for the Warriors offensively against other teams in this league all season long.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are All-Stars in their own right and will both be in the Hall-of-Fame one day, but they alone will not be able to carry Golden State past the Mavericks, especially given how great of a defensive team Dallas is.
They are going to look to double either Curry or Thompson every chance they can out on the perimeter and they will make life tough for them in terms of getting open looks.
This is why Jordan Poole is so important to the Warriors and why they need him to have a massive impact in the first few games against Dallas.
Poole’s ability to attack the paint, as well as shoot at a high-level from the perimeter, makes him almost like another All-Star scoring threat on the floor for the Warriors and this third shooter/scorer on the floor at the same time as Steph and Klay could really cause a lot of confusion for the Mavericks.
This extra little bit of offense goes a long way for the Warriors and could very well be the reason they breeze through this series and advance to the NBA Finals once again.
Andrew Wiggins Is The Key To Success For Golden State
Jordan Poole and his production is extremely important to the Warriors, but at the end of the day, Andrew Wiggins is their most important player because of everything he is going to be able to do in this series against Dallas.
In terms of scoring, Wiggins will need to step up like Poole given that Curry and Thompson will be heavily guarded, but the vast majority of his impact is going to come on the defensive-end of the floor.
Likely drawing the defensive assignment on Luka Doncic in this series, Andrew Wiggins is going to play a key role for the Warriors simply because of his athleticism and length.
Nobody is able to stop Doncic, however, Wiggins definitely has the size and length to bother the All-Star guard and contain him to an extent.
Forcing others outside of Doncic to beat them needs to be Golden State’s game plan heading into this Western Conference Finals series and this is why Wiggins is such an important player for them.
Many have been quick to criticize Andrew Wiggins and say that he is not deserving of being an All-Star, but stats are not everything. Wiggins does all the little things to help Golden State win and this showed in their previous series against the Grizzlies, as Wiggins brought an All-Star presence with him to every single game.
Switching onto anyone out on the perimeter defensively, knocking down key three-pointers in the second-half, giving Golden State second- and third-chance opportunities on offense due to offensive rebounds and tip-outs; these are all things Andrew Wiggins has done to positively impact Golden State in the playoffs and his presence will once again be vital in this series.
Does Dallas Have Enough Left Mentally To Beat Golden State?
Nobody should discredit the Dallas Mavericks for what they did to the Phoenix Suns because they absolutely deserve to be exactly where they are in the Western Conference Finals.
The key question that will be answered in the first few games of this series though is whether or not the Mavericks are going to be as prepared and as locked in for this series as they were for the Suns.
Luka Doncic is going to do his thing and we should expect the Mavericks to come out firing in Games 1 and 2 of this series given the momentum they carry into the Western Conference Finals, but was beating the Phoenix Suns the Mavericks’ “NBA Finals?”
We see lower seeds or teams not projected to win beat a top-team all the time in sports and then they look like a completely different team simply because they exerted all of their mental strength and energy into the previous matchup.
Hopefully this is not the case for Dallas, that way this turns out to be the excellent series it is projected to be, but the Mavericks are a pretty inexperienced team compared to the Warriors.
Golden State has been in this situation before late in the playoffs and there really is nothing that they have not seen in terms of leading or being down in the Western Conference Finals.
Dallas has not been in this spot since 2011 and the only players that have advanced past the first-round of the playoffs before this season are Tim Hardaway Jr., who is out after undergoing foot surgery, and Boban Marjanovic, who does not play at all for Dallas.
This Mavericks team has not been in this position in the NBA Playoffs before and their lack of experience is very likely to show early on against Golden State, a team that has been in the NBA Finals five different times since 2015 and basically has the same exact core intact.
If they get blown out in Games 1 and 2 of this series, it is hard to imagine that the Mavericks will be able to mentally get themselves back into this series against a proven championship-caliber team like the Warriors who have done this before.
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