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Mavs vs. Warriors Game 4: 3 Keys to Watch

The Dallas Mavericks seek to avoid getting swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Here's what we're looking for in Game 4.

DALLAS - The chances of the Dallas Mavericks pulling off a comeback after trailing 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals is as slim as it gets. No team has achieved such a feat in NBA playoff history. However, avoiding getting swept will be the goal in Game 4. 

The Mavericks came up short in their 109-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3. Luka Doncic scored 40 points, while Spencer Dinwiddie (26) and Jalen Brunson (20) combined for 46 — meaning only 14 came from the rest of the roster. 

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When looking beyond the shooting figures of Doncic, Brunson, and Dinwiddie, the Mavericks' supporting cast finished Game 3 going 5-27 (18.5 percent) shooting from the floor and 2-20 (10 percent) from the perimeter.

As Game 4 gets ready to tip-off at 8 p.m. CT on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, here are some of the biggest keys to watch for:

Can Defense Stay in Rotation?

The challenges that come with defending an offense led by Stephen Curry are essentially unique. He often draws multiple defenders deep off the 3-point line and the Warriors waste no time getting the ball into the weak points of the defense. 

When engaging the Warriors early in a possession, the decision becomes a matter of sending extra pressure at Curry and risking getting the unit out of rotation or making him work out in space to take dynamic shots. 

As shown in Game 3, Curry can make incredible plays when the offense stagnates and requires him to do so. However, is it better to make the greatest shooter of all time have to live up to that reputation on the road, or allow easy finishes or putbacks for players like Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins? The Mavericks have largely decided the latter rather than the former.

It'll be interesting to see if the Mavericks decide to switch things up to an extent in Game 4. There's little to lose considering no team has ever recovered from a 3-0 series deficit in playoff history. 

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Use 3-Guard Lineup More

The Warriors have been very straightforward in their defensive strategy. They are going to overload the strong side aggressively against Luka Doncic to make it difficult to get into the paint for clean finishes and spray-out passes. 

While Doncic is having to deal with fully attentive sagged-off help defenders in both directions, Draymond Green has primarily been deployed as the on-ball defender guarding Jalen Brunson. There is a need for a third creator on the floor to attack the weak points of the defense. 

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Spencer Dinwiddie thrived in the regular season against the Warriors and aside from his four-point performance in Game 2, he has been quite effective overall in the Western Conference Finals overall. He is coming off a 26-point outing in Game 3. 

Dinwiddie has the size to get to the rim and finish against the Warriors' defense anchored by the undersized Kevon Looney. Without Green often focused on Brunson, the low-man presence he typically offers wouldn't be factored in nearly as much. 

In the offseason, the Mavericks must find a third player they can play alongside Doncic and Brunson, or gain the necessary depth required to feel comfortable going with their three-guard lineup more against top defenses. 

Mavs Must Convert Open Shots

The Mavericks are up 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals, didn't you know? Well, not exactly. They are up 3-0 in shot quality score but are 0-3 in the actual series itself — meaning, they are not executing the type of looks they are generating at a sufficient rate. 

When role players like Maxi Kleber and Reggie Bullock combine to shoot 0-12 from beyond the arc, the top-level defense overloading on the superstar is going to succeed. The margin for error shrinks drastically when these shots do not fall. 

Remember, this is a Mavericks team that was overwhelming previous playoff matchups with their perimeter shooting. It became mathematically untenable to continue to get blasted from beyond the arc while this series has been the opposite. 

While there are many complexities of basketball that can be discussed about any matchup, some simple truths remain true. Converting on quality shot attempts is a must.