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Mavs vs. Warriors Game 1: Biggest Keys to Watch

The Dallas Mavericks face a new challenge against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Here’s what we’re looking for in Game 1.

After defeating the league-leading Phoenix Suns in the second round, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks believe they’re prepared for anything going forward… and why shouldn’t they?

After being the underdogs for two straight rounds, that trend will continue in the Western Conference Finals as the Mavs take on the championship-proven Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

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Although Phoenix was arguably the Mavs’ worst matchup on paper, the Warriors could still give Dallas some problems in different areas throughout the series — at least with their offense. On the flip side, there likely isn’t much Golden State will be able to do to stop Doncic from continuing his dominant play on offense. We should be in for a fantastic series.

As Game 1 gets ready to tip-off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night at Chase Center, here are some of the biggest keys to watch for:

Game 7 Hangover?

After completely annihilating the Suns in Game 7 by the final score of 123-90, there's a chance that the Mavs could come into the Western Conference Finals with a little bit of a letdown.

In league history, teams coming off Game 7 wins are 32-50 in Game 1 of the following series. The latest example of this came on Tuesday night, as the Boston Celtics, who beat the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, lost to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 118-107.

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Even if the Mavs were to lose Game 1 against the Warriors, they've shown the capability of being able to win a series after falling in an early hole two times now. Perhaps Dallas will buck this trend and finally get a Game 1 victory on Wednesday night, but if it doesn't, it won't be the end of the world.

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Mavs' Elite Defense vs. Warriors Off-Ball Movement

The Mavs' defense has proven that its capable of containing any high-powered offense when staying fully engaged and on a string throughout the game. The Suns averaged nearly 115 points per game during their 64-win regular season, but the Mavs held them to 101 points or less four times in their Western Conference semifinals series.

Although the Warriors aren't the same offensive machine that the Suns were throughout most of this season, they still present some unique challenges that Dallas will have to adjust to. One of those challenges is the Warriors having more off-ball movement than the Suns. The Mavs will need to show quick reactions and anticipate backdoor cuts if they hope to stymie the Warriors in the same way they did the Suns.

What Version of Mavs Role Players Will We See?

Throughout the Mavs’ series against the Suns, it was a Jekyll and Hyde situation for Dallas’ role players. When everyone showed up to give Doncic the adequate help he needed on the offensive end, the Mavs looked unbeatable. And when they didn’t, the Mavs got blown out… except for Game 7, where Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson combined for 89 of Dallas’ 123 points. No other Mavericks player scored more than six points.

The team’s defensive intensity was great from start to finish, but key role players Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber only combined for 13 points on 3-9 shooting. If the Mavs’ three-headed guard trio loses some steam in Game 1 against the Warriors, perhaps the others will be due for a bounce-back game.