Western Conference Finals Preview

The Warriors and Mavs start their series tonight with a trip the the NBA Finals on the line.

The Golden State Warriors, not too long ago, were thought to be done as a contender. Over the last few seasons they’ve dealt with injuries, roster turnover, and age. Now they’re back with their championship core, some new additions, and an attitude to get back to the NBA Finals. It might be Steph Curry’s league once more.

The Dallas Mavericks have a singular talent, the likes of which we may have never seen. A generational player in Luka Doncic, who’s combined his talents with smart coaching and a versatile roster. That combination led to one of the most shocking results in NBA history as they dismantled Phoenix.

It’s the old guard in Curry, and the new one in Luka. This matchup is fascinating for so many reasons. Let’s take a look.

Tale Of The Tape: In the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Mavericks have had to adjust on the fly. First, Doncic missed some time against Utah, which led to Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie stepping up. After they got through that series they were dominated by Phoenix in the first two games. Once Jason Kidd challenged Luka and co. to participate, the Mavs shocked the world and won a Game 7 on the road.

The Warriors are coming off of a physical series against Memphis after dispatching Denver in the 1st round. In the 2nd round, it felt like the Warriors just had an experience advantage against the Grizzlies. Despite some uneven performances they now have home court in this round. 

Key Matchup: Luka vs Everyone

Luka Doncic has shown that, at least for now, there isn’t a coverage that he can’t figure out. He will hunt a matchup and pick on it. Whether it’s getting a switch to get a big on him or getting a smaller guy, he is on another level. The Warriors will probably start with Andrew Wiggins on Luka. Then the game of chess begins. Dallas will want to get Steph Curry or Jordan Poole in actions for Luka to get the one on one. After that, it’s pick your poison. You either send your help to Luka and allow him to find a three point shooter or he goes one on one. Right now there is no easy answer. Here’s an example of how he can burn you in different ways.

Here you see the Warriors defense in scramble mode as Luka gets the ball movement going. This is where the Mavs are at their best.

Kevon Looney is one of the smarter switch bigs in the league, and here Luka just picks on him and gets to the basket for an and one.

Luka asks Looney for another dance, and this time backs him down, and gets to a mini fadeaway.

The Warriors can counteract this on the other end by making Luka work on defense. Andrew Wiggins could be an important player this series if Dallas isn’t going to send help. Expect the Warriors to target Luka just like Phoenix did. The only difference is the Warriors have more shooting to expose them.

The Mavericks should also expect Draymond Green helping on timed double teams, and where Green is deployed should be interesting. Green will have less of a 1 on 1 responsibility and should be able to roam in this series. He could definitely disrupt Dallas’ offense if they’re not on their game.

The Prediction: Golden State will miss Gary Payton II in this series. His defense and intangibles are very valuable, especially in trying to disrupt this Mavericks offense. There will be games in this series that the Warriors will win just by outshooting the Mavs. Steph, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole will find success.

The issue when the rubber meets the road is Luka Doncic. He is playing at a Hall Of Fame level. The decision making is sublime; the ability to dissect a defense is truly incredible. Add in Jason Kidd’s coaching and being adept at making adjustments. Also add in the Mavs role players figuring things out to a point where they dominated the best team in the sport. Going with the best player in the series here, Mavericks in 6.

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