Warriors take 3-0 lead over Mavericks; gentrification of Wiggins Island begins
BETTER LATER THAN NEVER!
You’re probably wondering how we got here. Yes, that’s the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball savior Luka Doncic buckling mid-air from the seismic impact of fellow All-Star Andrew Wiggins detonating a monstrous jam that cut off the oxygen in American Airlines Arena Sunday evening.
But there was a lot leading up to both this monstrous posterization and ultimately the 109-100 victory the Golden State Warriors secured on the road against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3. Let’s talk about how we got to that destructive dunk.
I just want to emphatically remind you of how incredible Golden State’s domination of Dallas has been so far this series.
Mavs Moneyball (the only Mavericks’ blog I trust) had a pre-series roundtable that featured juicy quotes such as:
The Mavericks win in 6 but a 6 that feels like it should be five. Luka Doncic is going to feast but so is Jalen Brunson. The Mavericks will make life hard for Stephen Curry who is at worst a top 15 player in the history of basketball. Overall I think people will be shocked at how much the Warriors will struggle to score on what has become a fantastic Mavericks defense.
Dallas won the regular season series 3-1 including going 2-0 post-Porzingis trade. Dallas has the best half-court offense in the playoffs and are absolutely going to force their pace onto Golden State. Not to mention, the fact remains, there’s simply no one who’s going to put a lid on Luka Doncic.
And people called ME an arrogant delusional homer? But forreal I get it, we all gotta bravely ride-or-die with our teams (unless we’d rather panic in March, dealer’s choice). And when ESPN polled their team of experts for predictions, 14 outta 19 picked GSW, which feels about right. But none picked the series to go shorter than 6 games. The Dubs are on the verge of a sweep!
Defense wins championships
The Dubs had the #2 ranked defense in the NBA during the regular season, and have made life miserable for Dallas this series. The Mavs are being held to 41% shooting from the field through three games, and 32% from beyond the arc. Compare that to the damage they did to the highly touted Phoenix Suns’ defense last round, where the Mavs hit ‘em up for 46% shooting (40% from downtown). Last night Dallas was shackled to 40% shooting (29% shooting from deep!).
Here’s two clips that pretty much sum up how the Dubs saran-wrapped these cats repeatedly.
The Dubs would cut off straight line drives to the basket from Luka and force him to swing to one of his teammates. The Dubs would rotate like madmen with the implicit attitude that as long as they got a decent contest one of those non-Luka dudes, they’d live with results.
It worked! Floor spacer Reggie Bullock shot 0-10 from the field, missing all seven of his attempts from downtown. Stretch big Maxi Kleber went 0-5 from beyond the arc as well.
And when Luka decided “okay I gotta make something happen for the Mavs Faithful”, the Warriors had enough savvy defenders to make him work for everything he took.
Luka still had 40 points with 11 rebounds (he’s really terrifyingly good at the game of basketball), but he only had three assists. I know a lot of erudite DNHQ commenters were all for the “withstand Luka’s barrage but don’t let his teammates get involved”, and the Golden State coaching staff had that gameplan locked-and-loaded.
We know that defense isn’t complete until the rebound is secured, and the Warriors nailed that with six players snagging at least five rebounds. IMAGINE WHAT THEY COULD DO WITH AN EXTRA BIG MAN, AMIRITE?
Remember earlier in the dynasty when you’d be watching with multiple narratives in your head every time a Warrior touched the ball in scoring position? "Livingston’s money from there…Klay’s heating up he might break a record…Mo Buckets is killing these dudes he’s on fire…Draymond just hit two threes in a row this game is over…DID STEPH JUST SHOOT FROM HALF COURT?!”
When the Dubs are grooving in sync with Coach Steve Kerr’s free-flowing offense, it seems like every pass finds the hot hand and every shot feels like it’s easy money.
Well those days are back. Golden State had five players in double-figures, with Kevon Looney just missing that arbitrary cutoff point with nine points of his own. The Dubs had 28 assists to only 10 turnovers (!), shooting 47% from the field and 34% from three-point range.
They were led in this efficient offensive performance by the man they’ve relied on for over a decade to spearhead their dominance: Stephen Curry.
Steph was more than ready to match whatever superstar-level output Luka had for the night. But unlike Luka, Steph was flanked by other All-Stars. Guys like Klay Thompson who struggled on 6-of-18 shooting but landed haymakers down the stretch that took the life out of the building.
And of course the All-Star starter himself, Andrew Wiggins, who grinded his way to 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists with 0 turnovers on 11-of-20 shooting from the field. Are those max contract numbers?
Wiggins Island is being gentrified
Speaking of Wiggs, let’s recall that the man overcame an ankle injury just to play last night. On a team already missing defensive stoppers Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II, and with Otto Porter Jr. leaving the game with a foot injury, the absence of Wiggins might have been too much even for these battle tested Warriors to overcome.
But Wiggins answered the call with 40 minutes of playing time, taking up the challenge of hounding Luka all over the court. Wiggins even scored a team-high 10 points in the fourth quarter to close the door on the Mavericks, none more ridiculous than the two he tallied on this explosive move.
BOOM SHAKALAKA! I wanted Wiggins to point to Luka on the ground and sneer at the crowd, roaring “IS THIS YOUR KING?!”. Can you believe the referees actually tried to call this an offensive foul because they, like many others, couldn’t believe Wiggins would perform such a shocking display of greatness?
On that note, I was highly amused at the blast of “WOW WIGGINS IS ACTUALLY GOOD AND SO ARE THE WARRIORS??” pieces that came out today across the sportball sphere, especially considering Dr. Tom and I (being intrepid reporters) did the research for everyone early. We spoke to a Minnesota Timberwolves reporter and Wiggins expert Colton Molesky expert immediately after the Warriors acquired the former #1 draft pick and concluded Wiggins would be a quality player for Golden State.
But better late than never I suppose for those tardy to the realization that A.) The Warriors have a brilliant organization that specializes in putting a variety of players in the right role for them and B.) Wiggins is a humble, young, talented, freak athlete who would be the fourth option on a team with three All-Stars who already have won multiple championships!!!
Kirk Henderson @KirkSeriousFaceWhat is a "playoff wiggins" https://t.co/46F4jlBON2
You don’t say!
BROOMS BROOMS BROOMS BROOMS
Did you know the Warriors have won a road game in 26 straight playoff series? Incredible. Enjoy this one Dub Nation, you earned it. Job’s not done yet, we got one more to go in this series, and then it’s on to the NBA Finals…again.
Okay one more slow-mo look at that dunk before I get outta here (notice the look of contempt that creeps across Wiggins’ face when he realizes that it’s Luka daring to stand in between MAPLE JORDAN AND THE RIM)