DALLAS - On a night when Luka Doncic recorded a 30-point, 20-assist triple double, it was Dorian Finney-Smith who delivered the final blow to the Washington Wizards in the Dallas Mavericks' 125-124 victory.
With 26.1 seconds left to play, Bradley Beal converted on a pair of free throws to put the Wizards up 124-122. The Mavericks had one possession left to execute and took full advantage.
Luka Doncic took charge for the Mavericks orchestrating the half-court offense as he had throughout the game. Commanding extra defensive attention from the Wizards' defense, he created a clean look for Dorian Finney-Smith from the corner.
Doncic recognized the Wizards sending help from the strong-side corner and had 'no doubt' that Finney-Smith would convert on the catch-and-shoot jump shot. Dallas pulled ahead 125-124 with 9.3 seconds remaining in regulation.
“There was strong-side help, so I saw (Finney-Smith) open and I had no doubt,” Doncic said. “That was a helluva shot, and very clutch.”
Sending help from the strong-side corner often results in a problematic outcome for a defense unless they are leaving a non-shooting threat open. Finney-Smith is certainly...not a non-shooter. He knocked down 6-of-9 (66.7%) from deep on the night and is now shooting 40.2% from deep on 5.1 attempts per game.
Prior to the possession that featured the game-winning shot, Finney-Smith noticed how much defensive attention the Wizards applied to Doncic. He knew he had to be ready to shoot since the ball would find its way to him.
“They trapped (Doncic) the last three possessions and I just got a layup two possessions before that, and then I got the turnover out of bounds,” Finney-Smith said. “So I knew the ball was going to find me most likely.
“I just wanted to be ready to shoot, because I didn’t shoot the ball when I stepped out of bounds. I told (Doncic) if you find me again I’m going to let it go, and he found me.”
Being able to trust teammates to execute out of the corner is a necessity for a superstar like Luka Doncic to be able to lead his team to wins. He continued to hold that trust despite Finney-Smith turning the ball over by stepping out from the corner the play before.
“That’s just Luka trusting me…that’s trust right there," Finney-Smith said. "Man, I’m just having fun with it. I feel good, everyone in the locker room is giving me confidence... I'd just stepped out of bounds and he still threw me the ball.”
Making teams pay for sending extra defensive pressure to the ball will help against top teams with swarming half-court defenses come playoff time. Finney-Smith has continued to develop into being a real threat in this way and will be vital to the Mavericks' success in the post-season.
It will be a quick turnaround before the Dallas Mavericks return to action. They will take on the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at the American Airlines Center.