Epic comeback? The Warriors need not worry after their Game 4 loss

The Dallas Mavericks deserved to win Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, but a win doesn't change the bottom line of this series.

USA About: Warriors Publish: 05/25/2022 Edit: 05/25/2022 Author: Gardener

Game 4This isn't even a series. Don't get me wrong, the Dallas Mavericks deservedly won Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas on Tuesday night. But the Warriors will take Dallas down in due course. Another game, maybe two, and the Warriors are back in the NBA Finals. Dallas needed an effort Tuesday night that was equal parts inspiration and throwback. The Mavericks made 20 3-pointers in the contest -- 10 more than the Warriors. And yet Dallas won by just 10 points. No code was cracked in Game 4. The adjustments the Mavericks have made have been positive, but they're not the kind of changes that can seriously transform this series. The Warriors have made a lot of history over the past eight years. There's a reason this series went into Game 4 with 3-0 Warriors. There's a reason Dallas won't do what 146 NBA teams before them couldn't and come back from a 3-0 postseason deficit: The Warriors are the better team. And in a weird way, they proved it again last night with a loss. The truth is so often sidelined, and it's telling that the Warriors' bench was able to force the Mavericks' starters back into contention to finish the game. Golden State loses focus with shocking ease. It could well prove to be the reason they don't win the NBA title this year. For some reason, the Warriors forgot that they had to attack the basket on offense in Game 4. And their defensive efforts were flagging at best. Warriors coach Steve Kerr also has to cope with this defeat. The Mavericks beat the Warriors' much-used zone defense on Tuesday by overloading one side of the court. It took Golden State too long to adjust. When the adjustment came (and Dallas took their foot off the accelerator, too), the Warriors made a contest out of it. That's the fun of the postseason, though. Watching the same team every night and not needing to focus on anything else allows you to delve deep into the playbook and, in some cases, the rich history of basketball. "They're going to be playing Zone for most of the game, so if they don't do three-pointers, that's going to be a problem for them," said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. He called the zone a "compliment" from the Warriors. Golden State's motto is simple, tried and true: Don't let the best beat you. At the end of the day, playoff series is all about temperament and talent, and as my wife remarked on last night's tipoff, "That's all Dallas has? Like the Cavaliers, Rockets, and Blazers in past Warriors postseasons, the Mavericks aren't a particularly strong 3-point shooting team. In that series, the Mavs are taking 45 3-pointers per game — 43 percent more than the Warriors. They hit a third of those 3-pointers going into Game 4. This is the break-even point for viability of the shot. But Golden State knows it takes more than the 3-point shot to play for the NBA title. The Mavericks have gotten clean looks from beyond the arc in all series. Some of that is their offense and the power of Luka Dončić. Part of this is the Warriors' defensive strategy. And sometimes the shots are fired. But for Dallas, they're eliminated in one game out of four. Three quarters of a game, really. This confirms the warrior model. Unless Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith, 39 percent of the shooters from beyond the arc going into Game 4 and 36 percent of the shooters in the series before Tuesday, 58 percent of their 3-pointers (like they did in Game 4 done) The next three games in a row Dallas will lose to the Warriors, probably Thursday at the Chase Center.

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