From the opening tip on Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors always seemed like they were in control over the Dallas Mavericks.
The Warriors defeated the Mavericks 112-87 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, taking one step closer to getting back to the NBA Finals for the sixth-time in the last eight seasons.
Stephen Curry led the way for the Warriors with 21 points and 12 rebounds, his 18th career playoff double-double, as Golden State got contributions from almost everyone that stepped foot in the game for them.
All five of the Warriors’ starters scored at least 10 points and both Jordan Poole (19) and Otto Porter Jr. (10) scored in double-digits off-the-bench.
Defense got the job done for the Mavericks in their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Phoenix Suns, but in Game 1 on Wednesday night, their defense was completely broken down by the Warriors.
Maybe this should have been expected given that the Mavericks had to fight their way through a seven-game series with the Suns only to go on the road against a championship-level team in the Warriors for Game 1 of this series, but Golden State never looked worried in this one and they seemed to handle Dallas’ game plan on both ends of the floor perfectly.
Heading into Game 2 on Friday night, the Mavericks will really have to better themselves on both ends of the court if they are to try and avoid falling into an 0-2 hole in this series.
Here is what we learned from Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors.
In the first two games of their Western Conference Semifinals series against Phoenix, the Dallas Mavericks put the ball in Luka Doncic’s hands and basically let him play one-on-one every possession on offense.
While Doncic did score a combined 80 points in those two games, the Mavericks lost these games by a combined 17 points and they fell into an 0-2 series hole.
This “hero-ball” mentality and not moving the ball did the Mavericks no good whatsoever and when they made adjustments offensively to move the ball around and “spread the wealth,” they suddenly became a much more balanced offensive team and they were able to upset the Suns in seven games.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors on Wednesday night, the Mavericks really struggled to move the ball and they reverted back to these ways of leaning on Luka Doncic to try and bail them out essentially.
Things did not go according to plan, as Doncic went just 6-18 from the floor for 20 points in this one and the Warriors really seemed to take away all the other options the Mavericks have had.
Jalen Brunson was not much of a factor with 14 points on 6-16 shooting and as a team, Dallas shot just 11-48 (22.9%) from three-point range.
Getting others involved and attacking the Warriors’ defense early in the shot clock needs to be two key points of emphasis for this team moving forward even though they have traditionally been a patient team.
The longer Golden State has to get set on defense, the worse the outcome will be for Dallas in this series, which is why they need to play to their strengths and try to run out in transition if possible.
Coming into this Western Conference Finals series, it was very clear to see that the Golden State Warriors had the upper hand over the Dallas Mavericks in terms of playoff and championship experience.
The last time the Mavericks were in the Western Conference Finals was when they went on to win their lone title in 2011. The Warriors have been in the NBA Finals five times since 2015 and almost everyone on their roster has deep playoff knowledge and experience.
Only Tim Hardaway Jr., who is out due to undergoing foot surgery, and Boban Marjanovic, who does not play in the main rotation for Dallas, have advanced past the first-round of the playoffs in their careers outside of this season for the Mavericks!
Experience matters late in the postseason and the Warriors’ championship pedigree showed in Game 1 against the Mavs. They understood the assignment, they controlled the flow of the game and they did not let Dallas get comfortable at any point, which is why Golden State ultimately came away with the victory.
Whether they lead or trail in a game, the Warriors have been in almost every single position they could possibly be in during the playoffs and in a championship series, which is why they are well prepared.
In order for Dallas to possibly win this series, they will not only have to come up with some solutions on defense, but they will really have to have some magical shooting nights out on the perimeter, much like they did against the Phoenix Suns in the previous round.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Game 1 of this series was the fact that Golden State never seemed concerned and at some points, they looked like they were playing pick-up basketball at the park!
This is the Western Conference Finals and not only were the Warriors dancing on the court after making shots, but they were laughing and joking around on their bench during timeouts in the second-half.
The Warriors knew that they had this game in the bag at halftime and they were not afraid to show this, especially given that they have been in these types of positions before as mentioned previously.
They got the shots they wanted, their defense was fantastic and everyone on the Warriors’ roster in Game 1 played their role perfectly, which is why they came away with what was truly a 30-point victory before both teams emptied their benches.
One of the biggest advantages the Mavericks had over the Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals was the fact that Dallas’ defense was able to annoy Chris Paul and Devin Booker out on the perimeter.
Phoenix struggled to find production from others on their roster offensively, which ultimately led to their downfall.
Dallas can attack Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson all they want, but if one of them has a bad game, Golden State still has another All-Star in Andrew Wiggins that is more than capable of knocking down big shots, as seen in Game 1, and they still have an emerging All-Star-like weapon in Jordan Poole on their bench.
Not to mention, Kevon Looney has stepped up in big moments in terms of rebounding and veteran Otto Porter Jr. has been a source of instant offense off-the-bench for them as well.
The Mavericks must find ways to take the Warriors out of their comfort zone in this series and try to force some turnovers because if they go out the rest of this series with the same mentality they had in Game 1, then this series will be over in four games and the Warriors will be back in the NBA Finals before we know it.
Brett Siegel joined FastBreak on Fan Nation in April 2022 after previously covering the NBA for NBA Analysis Network and working with Louisville Basketball, aiding in daily operations, scouting and recruiting. From playing to coaching to covering the game as a credentialed NBA media member, Brett has been involved with the game of basketball from many different perspectives. Breaking the news of Andre Drummond signing with the Lakers in 2021, as well as other key stories around the league, Brett is always on the phone, getting the latest news and rumors around the NBA. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @BrettSiegelNBA.