Seeing the Golden State Warriors might be the inspiration the Dallas Mavericks need to end a four-game losing streak when last year's Western Conference finalists meet for the first time this season on Tuesday night in Dallas.
The Mavericks weren't convinced the better team had won after the Warriors took advantage of a cold-shooting Dallas squad to claim a berth in the 2022 NBA Finals with a 4-1 triumph. Golden State outshot the Mavericks 51.8% to 43.7% from the field, allowing the Warriors to overcome nine more turnovers and 14 fewer free-throw points in the series.
Since they last met in June, the Mavericks have made the most significant transaction, replacing steady guard Jalen Brunson (lost to the New York Knicks in free agency) with talented big man Christian Wood, who came over from Houston.
Wood is tied for second on the team in scoring (17.1) and second in rebounds (7.6) while shooting 56.6 percent overall and 43.9 percent on 3-pointers. Wood had 21 points in Sunday's 124-115 loss at Milwaukee and put up a 26-point, 12-rebound double-double in a defeat four nights earlier at Boston at the start of the Mavericks' three-game trip.
Those losses don't sting as much as earlier defeats at the hands of a five-win Houston Rockets club and a Denver Nuggets team missing Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.
"This is why you can't drop the winnable ones," Spencer Dinwiddie said of the tough trip. "Or the 20-point leads, or Denver without their players, or the Rockets ... Those are the ones that you've got to have."
The nationally televised affair pits the league's top two scorers in the Mavericks' Luka Doncic (33.1 points a game) and Warriors' Stephen Curry (31.4).
Doncic outscored Curry by an average of 32.0-23.8 in last year's playoff series, but Curry was far more efficient, shooting 44.4 percent overall and 43.9 from 3-point range, while Doncic finished at 41.5 and 34.0 percent.
Like last June, Curry has lately been getting much more support than Doncic. He's been almost five points below his average while putting up 26.7 points a night during Golden State's current three-game winning streak, making 14 of his 34 3-point attempts (41 percent).
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson has heated up with a 19.7 scoring average and 14 threes during the run, while Andrew Wiggins has chipped in with 22.7 points and 12 threes.
Thompson has shot 52 percent on 3-pointers in the three games, Wiggins 55 percent. Newcomer Donte DiVincenzo got into the long-distance act Sunday with a season-best four 3-pointers in eight attempts in 137-114 romp at Minnesota.
"To get everybody playing well at the same time is great," said Draymond Green, who contributed 19 points and 11 assists to Sunday's win. "We're starting to put it together. If we can keep building at this rate, we'll be poised for a run pretty soon."
The win over the Timberwolves was just the Warriors' second on the road in 11 tries, a big reason they are residing ninth in the Western Conference.
--Field Level Media