The Dallas Mavericks knew they fumbled a golden opportunity in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, as they coughed up a 19-point lead and fell into a 2-0 series hole against the Golden State Warriors. Although the Mavs had come back from this kind of deficit before, it felt different this time with the Warriors being led by their championship-proven core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Dallas' biggest fears were realized on Sunday night at American Airlines Center, as the Warriors pulled out a 109-100 win and took a commanding 3-0 series lead. No team in NBA history has ever come back from such a deficit. Although the Warriors should be credited for their play throughout these three games, the Mavs only have themselves to blame for the mess they're in now.
"This is huge for our franchise," said coach Jason Kidd after another disappointing loss. "This isn't the end, this is just the beginning. We'll be ready to go for Game 4."
Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 40 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in 40 minutes of play. He shot 11-23 from the field, including 4-9 from deep and 14-17 from the free-throw line.
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Doncic added to the Kidd-like perspective, saying, “I’m still learning. I think after this season is done, whenever we are, I’m going to look back and learn a lot of things. This is my first conference finals in NBA. I’m 23, man. I’m still learning a lot.”
The low assist total for Doncic lets you know what kind of night a handful of his teammates had. Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber and Davis Bertans combined to shoot 1-18 from the field, including 0-14 from deep. The Mavs shot just 40 percent as a team, including 28.9 percent from deep. The formula is simple for the Mavs – make open shots, have a legitimate chance to win. Miss shots, and potentially get embarrassed.
The Warriors were led by Curry, who finished with 31 points, five rebounds and 11 assists on 10-20 shooting, including 5-10 from deep. When the Mavs build a nine-point lead late in the second quarter, Curry helped Golden State come back quickly to take a lead heading into halftime.
Andrew Wiggins, who was questionable before the game, pitched in with 27 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 11-20 from the field. Six of Wiggins' 11 boards came on the offensive end. He continues to be the Warriors' second-best player in this series.
The Mavs will now try to do what no team in league history has ever done, but to do that, they'll have to focus on winning one game first. Dallas will have that opportunity on Tuesday night. Although this series is all but over, Doncic and the Mavs are playing for pride at this point. We'll see if they they have what it takes to avoid the sweep.
Said Luka: "It's not over yet, but it's not going to be easy. The Warriors aren't going to give you nothing. … the Warriors are playing incredible.”