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Comeback Kidds: Doncic, Mavs Shouldn’t Be Counted Out Yet

The Mavericks will try to tie the Western Conference Finals at 1-1 with the Warriors before the series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.

We live in a day and age where overreacting and spewing irrational hot takes after one NBA playoff game has become the norm, no matter what previous playoff series have tried to teach people.

For the most part, this is what has happened on social media and a handful of national television outlets after the Dallas Mavericks lost the the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night by a 112-87 final. If you ask those particular people, this series is over before it really even got started. However, no matter how bad that Game 1 score looked, the Mavs shouldn't be counted out just yet, based on how they've bounced back from bad losses all season.

For the entire season, including two games against the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the playoffs, the Mavs are 10-0 in games following a loss by 20 points or more. Dallas doesn't get beaten that badly often, but when it does, it tends to take it personally and bounces back in a big way. This is a testament to the team's calm-and-collected, yet gritty, identity that's adopted from first-year head coach Jason Kidd.

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"No, there were a lot of great looks that just didn't go down," said Kidd when asked if nervousness was the reason for the Mavs' loss. "It happens. It's basketball. Hopefully we get those same looks in Game 2, and we believe we'll make them.

"There's a team out there that's won a championship starting the same way, losing the first game. So that's a positive. We've always found a way to answer, so we don't have to look too far but at ourselves of how we've gotten better. We've lost two games in a row on the road and found a way to get back in the series. We've lost the first game and gotten back into the series. This is one game. They did their part. Now we've got to figure out – again, making shots helps our defense, but give [the Warriors] credit, they were good tonight."

Whether the Mavs are able to bounce back in Game 2 or not, one thing is for sure – they won't be lacking any confidence. As Kidd mentioned, these players have been in this situation before, and they typically turn things up a notch when pressure is applied.

"I mean, we were 11-48 from three and maybe eight of those are bad, right," said Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored 17 points on 5-11 shooting in Game 1. "So that means you've got 40 good looks at three, you at least want to hit 15, 16 of them. Five more threes, 15 more points, you know, during the course of the game we were down about 20, which puts you in the game."

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Dinwiddie actually shortchanged his math a little bit on how many of those triples were actually bad triples. According to NBA.com, the Mavs shot 28 wide-open (defender more than six feet away) and 16 open (4-6 feet) 3s vs. the Warriors in Game 1. Going off of that, 44 of the Mavs’ 48 attempts from deep were either open or wide open.

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"Yeah, of course, it's a series," said Dinwiddie when asked if the Mavs' previous playoff comebacks give him confidence. "I don't think Golden State is sitting over there saying they won, the same way we aren’t sitting over here saying we lost. We've got to get four wins. So same vibe."

As the Mavs look to bounce back as a team, superstar Luka Doncic will try to recover on an individual level as well: he scored just 20 points on 6-18 shooting in what was his worst performance of these playoffs by far.

“I think the whole team, we didn't shoot the ball great. We were 22 percent from three. I think we have got to attack the paint more,” said Doncic. “It's (only) one game. That's what the playoffs (are) about. If you lose by one or lose by 40, it's a loss. We've just got to get ready for Game 2 now.

"I think I've got to be better. That's on me. As a leader I've got to be better for the whole group, so that's on me.”

The Warriors should be credited for taking care of business on their home floor in Game 1. They are a team with loads of championship experience and success that deserves to be respected. Dallas fully respects its opponent and realizes what it's up against, but it's also confident that it can figure out how to jump this hurdle, just as its in the previous two rounds.

"Yeah, I think we had a lot of good looks. Just the ball didn't go in for us tonight. That's really it. Ball didn't go in for us as much as we'd hoped," said Jalen Brunson.

"But we'll come back. We'll get better and be prepared for Game 2."