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Mark Cuban Speaks on How Warriors Got Best of Mavs

Mark Cuban revealed his thoughts on why the Dallas Mavericks were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA playoffs.

The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals. The future is bright with Luka Doncic as their franchise cornerstone. He just earned his third All-NBA First-Team nod at the age of 23.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban participated in a 1-on-1 live interview with Bleacher Report on Tuesday. As one might expect, the Mavericks were a hot topic to discuss. 

Cuban asked about if the Mavericks have the right pieces around Luka Doncic to win a championship. He explained how the team's shortcomings against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals had to do with 'corporate knowledge' as opposed to talent.

"When we lost in the Conference Finals, I don't think it was for a lack of talent." Cuban said. "I think the Warriors deserve a lot of credit because they had played together for so long, their execution was phenomenal. ... That wasn't so much talent as it was corporate knowledge."

Cuban continued: “The experience of having played together for all those years and been in crunch situations knowing what to do," Cuban explained. "We hadn't been there yet. We hadn't been out of the first round in 10 years. A lot of it was execution and when talking to our guys during the series, that was the theme that kept coming up. 

"The Warriors knew where to be on both sides of the ball no matter how we adjusted. The teams we had played before hadn't been as good at adjustments," Cuban said. "It's not so much 'we need that second star,' or whatever. It's more 'let's get some time and experience in crunch situations and it will pay off."

Cuban saw similarities in how the Warriors defeated the Celtics compared to what the Mavericks experienced in their own series. Golden State deployed a unit that executed together on a string in ways that proved to be the difference. 

"You can't simulate [to gain the experience], you have to be there," Cuban explained. "When you look at the Celtics, Warriors in the finals, you can see the Celtics had great talent, but the Warriors just out-executed them. The same thing they did to us. They didn't out-shoot them. They got the guy who was hot open. They got good looks. They had guys who knew their roles."

One player who tipped the series in the Warriors' favor from what Cuban saw in the Western Conference Finals was Andrew Wiggins considering he stepped up despite being new to those moments. 

"I think [Wiggins] was the one who beat us. ... We knew what to expect from Klay, and from Steph, and from Draymond," Cuban said. "We didn't know what to expect or how [Wiggins] would step up, and he did. That's what it comes down to in that type of series. Everybody understanding their roles, being able to execute on what the coach puts out for you, and having guys you'd call role players step up when the time is right."

While the Warriors may not have a "Big 3" that resembles some of the flashy superstar trios that have been formed as of late, they are as cohesive as it gets. The elite shooting and off-ball movement that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson provide fit with anyone. 

Green's ability to play out of handoffs and in the short-roll is fully maximized by playing with Curry, who attracts incredible amounts of attention. The defense can't afford to deep drop against Curry and often feel the need to blitz or at least play close to the level, which makes it easy for the Warriors to get the defense out of rotation. Why is that? Because of the threat Curry's range poses.

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As plays get later into the shot clock for the Warriors, they've made the defense get out of rotation either using their split action, a high ball screen, or a handoff to the point where often there are chances for 45-cuts or offensive rebounds for a wing like Wiggins since the defense isn't in position to handle it.  

While some may not call those attributes from the Warriors' stars "talent" in the traditional sense, perhaps valuable attributes aren't being weighed as strongly as they should. 

Take Green's defensive impact for example. His processing in the half-court is emblematic of a super computer. He's a vocal leader directing his teammates as essentially the middle linebacker of the group. He makes defensive rotations with great timing and guards multiple positions in ways you can't ask most players — making those traits a real talent. 

Green spent stretches guarding the opposition's secondary scoring threat while the Warriors deployed Wiggins often at the point of attack on defense. How many teams have a wing defender near Wiggins' level let alone an anchor at Green's level?

With Jalen Brunson encountering a more challenging series against the Warriors than against the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, the Mavericks didn't have a third threat to deploy alongside him and Doncic to exploit the weak points in the Warriors' defense. 

A wing with size would have been ideal for a few reasons. Not only for the ability to attack off the catch into the gap or to knock down catch-and-shoot looks, but to also have a third reliable wing defender in addition to Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith. Both players were rightfully gassed as the playoff run progressed.

Now, the Mavericks no longer have Brunson and have yet to replace him with an experienced guard. For a team needing experience, going from the consummate collegiate winner and playoff breakout star in Brunson to a second-round pick playing his first NBA season in Jaden Hardy seems like a step in the wrong direction for short-term results.

The Mavericks came away from the Western Conference Finals with rebounding being the big area they felt necessary to address. They acquired Christian Wood and JaVale McGee to help in that department. Each player adds helpful attributes to this team, but regardless, there still are some key areas that could be addressed.


You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.

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