Dallas Mavericks: What to prioritize in Game 3 vs. Golden State

Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports) /

Exploring what the Dallas Mavericks need to prioritize in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. 

Nobody expected the Dallas Mavericks to advance all the way to the Western Conference Finals but they are still alive in their quest to advance to the Finals.

It won’t be easy as they find themselves down 0-2 to the Golden State Warriors after losing both Game 1 and 2 on the road. Now headed back home for Game 3 and 4 at American Airlines Arena, Luka Doncic and the Mavericks will try and feed off the energy of their home crowd in hopes of evening up the series.

They have their hands full as the Warriors are experienced, battle tested and just know how to win and close out games. What adjustments must head coach Jason Kidd make in order for his team to be victorious?

Doncic Must Assert Himself And Stay Aggressive

In both Game 1 and 2, the Warriors ran away with the game after halftime as the Mavs struggled mightily in the 3rd quarter of both games. In Game 1, they were outscored in the 3rd quarter by10 points, but in Game 2 they were outscored in the 3rd quarter by 13 points.

The Mavs cannot afford to have meltdowns of that magnitude, especially just starting the 2nd half. The Warriors are just too talented and the Mavs are going to have to stay aggressive attacking the rim while trying to get the Warriors in foul trouble.

The Mavs, being one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA, should experiment with a change of pace and try to switch things up to see what works. Kidd may also want to consider pushing the ball down the floor  in order to create more fast break opportunities instead of settling for 3’s or contested shots deep into the shot clock.

At the end of the day, Doncic must remain aggressive as the Mavs are depending on his scoring. During the 3rd quarter in Game 1, Doncic didn’t even attempt  a field goal until 9:43 and only attempted 3 shots total.

The worst part of it was the four turnovers Doncic committed. In Game 2, he didn’t take a shot until 5:22 in the 3rd quarter and only took 4 shots. Doncic cannot be lackadaisical at any point in the game. He has to find his rhythm and put pressure on the Warriors defense if they are to have a fighting chance.

Mavs Must Rebound And Protect The Paint

Two key statistical categories that the Mavs are being destroyed in are rebounding and points scored in the paint. The Warriors have scored an astounding 106 points in the two games while the Mavs only account for 62. The Mavs have to come up with a strategy to defend the basket even if they have to pick their poison b y neglecting the shooters on the perimeter while focusing on keeping the Warriors out of the lane.

Dwight Powell is the Mavs best rim protector but he has only played a total of 22 minutes in both games as Kidd chooses to go with a smaller lineup. Dorian Finney-Smith can defend multiple positions but is a bit undersized at 6-foot-7, but with Powell on the bench, he has no one to depend on to help out on the opposite side. Davis Bertans is another option Kidd could try and use due to his size but he is more of an offensive weapon instead of a defensive threat.

At this point in the series, Kidd could insert 7-foot-4 Boban Marjanovic just to see if his size can deter the Warriors just a little bit. Already down 0-2, the Mavs have to try everything they can in order to bounce back. The rebounding numbers in this series is lopsided as well as the Warriors hold an 94-65 advantage.

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Once again, a big reason for that differential is Kidd choosing to go with the smaller lineup sacrificing defense and rebounding trying to keep up with the high scoring Warriors. What’s crazy is that Stephen Curry has more rebounds than any player on any team in the series. Point blank period, the Mavs have to do better.