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The Warriors' late push in Game 4 could pay off down the line

The late game from Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody gave the Warriors a chance in Game 4 and should build serious confidence for Game 5 and beyond. (Author: Gardener)

Game 4And they didn't deserve to win the competition either. They also didn't deserve to be won against the Dallas Mavericks in this series of Western Conference Finals. But the Warriors did something at the end of a blowout game that could prove prescient for the rest of this series, the NBA Finals, and the years of Warriors basketball to come: Jordan Poole is 22 years old. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are 19-year-old rookies. Those three youngins, along with Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee, outscored the Mavericks - who had led by as much as 29 points in the second half - by 21 points in their eight-and-a-half minutes of play to start the fourth quarter. They cut the 3:22 lead to eight to play fourth. But Poole and the gang turned an easy, overwhelming win for the Mavericks into a game that required Dallas to put their starters back in the middle of the frame. The Warriors' kids played so well that Golden State used their starters again. Warriors coach Steve Kerr returned to his starters after Kuminga's 3-pointer led to a single-digit game. It was a questionable decision - why move away from the players who turned a blowout contest into a game the Warriors could win? But Kerr said the decision to rejoin Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins was predetermined. And I looked at the other coaches, I looked at Steph, and we just decided if it was manageable and possible, then let's do it," Kerr said. "[It] felt like we had one more shot with ... three and a half minutes when we put in Steph and Wiggs and Klay. I also felt like maybe the group that played that great run in the fourth quarter was getting a little tired there. And so we just made the decision to see if we could pull off a miracle.” But while it's not a win in the box, it's undoubtedly a not-so-small win in a game where the Warriors didn't have many . The Warriors kept playing - and kept shooting (12 of 15 during minutes of blowout session) - and the Mavericks went cold. Well, that says something about the Warriors and their young, inexperienced players. Poole didn't play well in those Western Conference Finals. He drives 1,000 mph and his lack of physical strength proves problematic on both offense and defense against Dallas point guard Luka Dončić and Jalen Brunson. I don't know if those facts were overshadowed by his fourth-quarter play against an alert Mavericks team, but success certainly doesn't hurt. Poole will be crucial for the Warriors ending this streak. He doesn't have to be perfect, but at least better than in the last two games. I've long called Poole a vibes player. Maybe it's his age. Maybe it's a Gen Z thing. Maybe it's just his playstyle - he's mixed and prone to moodiness. Well, Tuesday's fourth-quarter upbeat sentiment could prove extremely fruitful as we progress into Game 5 -- particularly in the NBA Finals, where Poole's influence is needed even more, especially when the Warriors take on the Boston Celtics, a nightmare -Matchup. Kuminga and Moody were even better than Poole in the fourth quarter. But wasn't it telling that both players looked capable as the possibility of a legendary comeback - no matter how minor - surfaced. Meanwhile, the Warriors still have something to take from the late-game surge: No, the Warriors won't be shooting 12-for-15 off the floor this postseason -- if at all -- but instead the five-out margin we saw in the fourth Quarter created clean looks on just subtle movement. For Poole and Moody - two players who will no doubt be part of the second unit in Game 5 - that's something to consider. For Bjelica and Lee, who could join this duo with minutes of rotation on Thursday, it's something to remember. You know the Mavericks will remember. And even though Dallas won the game, the positive energy of the win was almost completely wiped out by the late-game collapse. The Warriors will somehow, somehow, enter Game 5 with at least a modicum of momentum despite the loss. And surprises like this keep popping up in the postseason.

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Mavs avoid sweeping against Warriors on emotional day in Dallas

The Mavericks avoided elimination against Golden State, but the focus wasn't just basketball for either team. (Author: Gardener)

MavsThe Mavericks avoided elimination against Golden State, but the focus wasn't just basketball for either team. DALLAS -- In the first three games of the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors thoroughly won the defensive struggle against the Mavericks. Through a combination of looks that included a hedge-and-recovery man scheme, some switching, some box-and-one, and lots of zone, Golden State held Dallas at an offensive rating of 106 in Games 1-3, 3. an elite brand. Leave it to Mavs coach Jason Kidd to turn those plans into positives: Dallas was finally able to capitalize on the Warriors on Tuesday and book their first win of the series as the Dubs still go 3-1 back at bay. The Mavs' 119-109 win in Game 4 rested on the strength of their outside shooting when their threes finally started dripping like rain through the leaking roof of the Dallas arena. After shooting just 32.6% on threes in the first three contests, the Mavs tied 20 of 43 on Tuesday night, good for 46.5%. As an example of just how powerful the turn was, Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith shot together 2-of-12 from deep in Game 3. As Finney-Smith put it after the game, "If we were going to lose today, I wanted to go shooting." The attention paid to Luka Dončić often draws outside looks to the Mavs' supporting cast. The Warriors were generally reluctant to give Luka the switches he wanted this series, and that reluctance, along with the inclusion of zone looks, can put defenses in constant rotations. In their postseason wins, the Mavs are shooting 40.8% to 42 three-pointers per game. On their losses, they shoot just 33.7% on 40.8 attempts per game. Of all the teams remaining in the playoffs, Dallas has the best three-point win percentage as well as the highest number of attempts per game. After the game, Steve Kerr lamented his team's performance, saying they were not alert or defensively sharp. The Warriors have mixed in so much coverage that assistant coach Mike Brown yells off the bench and yells assignments for much of the game while Dallas gets the ball on the floor. At the other end of the floor, Golden State seemed lethargic. The Warriors couldn't build much offense into the fourth quarter. The end result made the game look more competitive than it was. The Mavs had obviously taken their foot off the gas, and when the Golden State starters checked back in with just minutes to go, they never seriously threatened to make things interesting. More importantly, of course, the game took place just hours after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, just over 350 miles from the arena. Jason Kidd read a prepared statement and declined to answer a basketball question. He said he was unable given the circumstances, keeping his voice low as he tried to gather his thoughts. After Kidd, Kerr delivered an impassioned speech that lasted nearly three minutes. I'm so tired of standing up here and offering my condolences to the devastated families out there. I'm so sick of the excuses. I'm tired of the moments of silence. Enough," Kerr said, adding, "To all the senators who refuse to do anything about the violence in school and supermarket shootings, I ask you, 'Are you going to put your own desire for power over the lives of our children? our elderly and our churchgoers?' Because that's the way it looks.” Kerr, his emotions palpable, called the lack of action “pathetic” before saying, “I've had enough” and quickly exiting his press conference. Stephen Curry said after the game he appreciated Kerr's leadership, adding that shooting was "all the talk of the moment he came into the game". Sharing Kerr's pre-tip speech on his Twitter account, he wrote, "Watch this as many times as you watch the game tonight." Perhaps the most impactful thing that happened on the pitch on Tuesday happened nearly an hour after the game, when there was no one left in the stands: Draymond Green, beaming as he walked with his family through the middle of the mostly empty gymnasium, his children on either side.

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The Warriors' late push in Game 4 could pay off down the line

The Warriors didn't win Game 4. And they didn't deserve to win the competition either. But the Warriors did something at the end of a blowout game that could prove prescient for the rest of this series, the NBA Finals and the years of... (Author: Gardener)

Game 4DALLAS, TEXAS - MAY 24: Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gives high fives to Golden State Warriors' Jonathan Kuminga (00) during their game against the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference Finals playoff game American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. And they didn't deserve to win the competition either. They also didn't deserve to be won against the Dallas Mavericks in this series of Western Conference Finals. But the Warriors did something at the end of a blowout game that could prove prescient for the rest of this series, the NBA Finals, and the years of Warriors basketball to come: Jordan Poole is 22 years old. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are 19-year-old rookies. And there they were, making the Mavericks sweat harder than the roof of the American Airlines Arena. Those three youngins, along with Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee, outscored the Mavericks - who had led by as much as 29 points in the second half - by 21 points in their eight-and-a-half minutes of play to start the fourth quarter. They cut the 3:22 lead to eight to play fourth. But Poole and the gang turned an easy, overwhelming win for the Mavericks into a game that required Dallas to put their starters back in the middle of the frame. The Warriors' kids played so well that Golden State used their starters again. Warriors coach Steve Kerr returned to his starters after Kuminga's 3-pointer led to a single-digit game. It was a questionable decision - why move away from the players who turned a blowout contest into a game the Warriors could win? But Kerr said the decision to rejoin Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins was predetermined. And I looked at the other coaches, I looked at Steph, and we just decided if it was manageable and possible, then let's do it," Kerr said. "[It] felt like we had one more shot with ... three and a half minutes when we put in Steph and Wiggs and Klay. I also felt like maybe the group that played that great run in the fourth quarter was getting a little tired there. And so we just made the decision to see if we could pull off a miracle.” But while it's not a win in the box, it's undoubtedly a not-so-small win in a game where the Warriors didn't have many . The Warriors kept playing - and kept shooting (12 of 15 during minutes of blowout session) - and the Mavericks went cold. Well, that says something about the Warriors and their young, inexperienced players. Poole didn't play well in those Western Conference Finals. He drives 1,000 mph and his lack of physical strength proves problematic on both offense and defense against Dallas point guard Luka Dončić and Jalen Brunson. I don't know if those facts were overshadowed by his fourth-quarter play against an alert Mavericks team, but success certainly doesn't hurt. Poole will be crucial for the Warriors ending this streak. He doesn't have to be perfect, but at least better than in the last two games. I've long called Poole a vibes player. Maybe it's his age. Maybe it's a Gen Z thing. Maybe it's just his playstyle - he's mixed and prone to moodiness. Well, Tuesday's fourth-quarter upbeat sentiment could prove extremely fruitful as we progress into Game 5 -- particularly in the NBA Finals, where Poole's influence is needed even more, especially when the Warriors take on the Boston Celtics, a nightmare -Matchup. Kuminga and Moody were even better than Poole in the fourth quarter. But wasn't it telling that both players looked capable as the possibility of a legendary comeback - no matter how minor - surfaced. Meanwhile, the Warriors still have something to take from the late-game surge: No, the Warriors won't be shooting 12-for-15 off the floor this postseason -- if at all -- but instead the five-out margin we saw in the fourth Quarter created clean looks on just subtle movement. For Poole and Moody - two players who will no doubt be part of the second unit in Game 5 - that's something to consider. For Bjelica and Lee, who could join this duo with minutes of rotation on Thursday, it's something to remember. You know the Mavericks will remember. And even though Dallas won the game, the positive energy of the win was almost completely wiped out by the late-game collapse. The Warriors will somehow, somehow, enter Game 5 with at least a modicum of momentum despite the loss. And surprises like this keep popping up in the postseason.

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Bob Myers and Steve Kerr reflect on the Warriors' push to return to the NBA Finals

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are looking to win their fourth championship with the Warriors. (Author: Gardener)

Bob MyersWhile Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have never donned Warriors uniforms together this season, their collective greatness has never been in question. The trio have won three titles together, will one day be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and eventually be immortalized with statues outside the Chase Center honoring their remarkable achievement. But in the eyes of Warriors general manager Bob Myers, he owed Curry, Thompson and Green another honor: the chance to make at least one more run at a championship. "I wanted to see what Steph, Klay and Draymond ... I wanted them to get beat," Myers told The Jim Rome Show on Monday. Toronto beat us and that's okay, but I wanted to see a team where they could try again.” After winning her first championship in 2015 and topping the mountain with Kevin Durant in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, Thompson collapsed during the 2019 NBA Finals with a cruciate ligament tear. An exhausted Warriors team, already without Durant due to a torn Achilles tendon, lost to the Raptors but had visions of a big comeback. The next season, the Warriors won 15 games. Durant's departure, combined with Thompson's absence and a hand injury that limited Curry to just five games, deprived Golden State of an opportunity to be competitive. The Warriors, with their championship blood, were never truly underdogs. But when they came up against the Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas on Tuesday, they're finally back in an oh-so-familiar position. Curry, 34, puts teams to bed with lights-out shooting and world-class conditioning. "Steph is such an incredible leader and the way he's behaving everyone will agree," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told KNBR on Monday. After recovering from his ACL injury, Thompson, 32, tore his Achilles tendon and ended a 941-day absence by returning to the floor in front of a rowdy crowd at the Chase Center in January. "It's lonely and you're forgotten," Myers told Rome. It's like water for Klay, he has to have it.” The 32-year-old Green was nothing more than a ceremonial participant in the pick for Thompson's first game back with the Warriors. The early frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year struggled with a back injury that kept him off the ground for the next two months. After a foot injury sidelined Curry for the final 12 games of the regular season, the dynastic trio had spent a full 11 minutes on the floor together by the start of the NBA playoffs. As teams in the league grapple with the physical strains of a playoff marathon, a Warriors core forms at the right time that barely trained together in the regular season. Kerr told KNBR that injured veteran Andre Iguodala, 38, reminded the Warriors this week. "He said, 'Teams have to improve during the playoffs to get where they need to be and we knew we weren't a finished product by the end of the regular season,'" Kerr said. "We knew we had a higher cap." Andre was very eloquent in describing what that meant for our team and I think the lads took note of that." "He was right or wrong for most of his career raked over the coals," Myers told Rome. When Wiggins took the spotlight in Sunday night's Game 3 with a vicious dunk over Mavericks star Luka Dončić, it was easy to see why the Warriors are well-positioned to win their fourth championship in eight years. Curry, Thompson and Green are battle-hardened, and a supporting cast led by Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney has more than enough skills to give the core a much-needed boost. "It's a new version of this team," Kerr said. Sure, a lot of these stories are new, but the reason the Warriors are in this position is to make the old faces look like themselves again. A little gray and a lot more gray-haired, they want to tell another championship story.

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Bob Myers and Steve Kerr reflect on the Warriors' push to return to the NBA Finals

"I wanted to say, 'Let them play until they're beaten.'" (Author: Gardener)

Bob MyersWhile Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have never donned Warriors uniforms together this season, their collective greatness has never been in question. The trio have won three titles together, will one day be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and eventually be immortalized with statues outside the Chase Center honoring their remarkable achievement. But in the eyes of Warriors general manager Bob Myers, he owed Curry, Thompson and Green another honor: the chance to make at least one more run at a championship. "I wanted to see what Steph, Klay and Draymond ... I wanted them to get beat," Myers told The Jim Rome Show on Monday. Toronto beat us and that's okay, but I wanted to see a team where they could try again.” After winning her first championship in 2015 and topping the mountain with Kevin Durant in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, Thompson collapsed during the 2019 NBA Finals with a cruciate ligament tear. An exhausted Warriors team, already without Durant due to a torn Achilles tendon, lost to the Raptors but had visions of a big comeback. The next season, the Warriors won 15 games. Durant's departure, combined with Thompson's absence and a hand injury that limited Curry to just five games, deprived Golden State of an opportunity to be competitive. The Warriors, with their championship blood, were never truly underdogs. But when they came up against the Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas on Tuesday, they're finally back in an oh-so-familiar position. Curry, 34, puts teams to bed with lights-out shooting and world-class conditioning. "Steph is such an incredible leader and the way he's behaving everyone will agree," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told KNBR on Monday. After recovering from his ACL injury, Thompson, 32, tore his Achilles tendon and ended a 941-day absence by returning to the floor in front of a rowdy crowd at the Chase Center in January. "It's lonely and you're forgotten," Myers told Rome. It's like water for Klay, he has to have it.” The 32-year-old Green was nothing more than a ceremonial participant in the pick for Thompson's first game back with the Warriors. The early frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year struggled with a back injury that kept him off the ground for the next two months. After a foot injury sidelined Curry for the final 12 games of the regular season, the dynastic trio had spent a full 11 minutes on the floor together by the start of the NBA playoffs. As teams in the league grapple with the physical strains of a playoff marathon, a Warriors core forms at the right time that barely trained together in the regular season. Kerr told KNBR that injured veteran Andre Iguodala, 38, reminded the Warriors this week. "He said, 'Teams have to improve during the playoffs to get where they need to be and we knew we weren't a finished product by the end of the regular season,'" Kerr said. "We knew we had a higher cap." Andre was very eloquent in describing what that meant for our team and I think the lads took note of that." "He was right or wrong for most of his career raked over the coals," Myers told Rome. When Wiggins took the spotlight in Sunday night's Game 3 with a vicious dunk over Mavericks star Luka Dončić, it was easy to see why the Warriors are well-positioned to win their fourth championship in eight years. Curry, Thompson and Green are battle-hardened, and a supporting cast led by Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney has more than enough skills to give the core a much-needed boost. "It's a new version of this team," Kerr said. Sure, a lot of these stories are new, but the reason the Warriors are in this position is to make the old faces look like themselves again. A little gray and a lot more gray-haired, they want to tell another championship story.

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Three things that went wrong in the Warriors Game 4 loss to Dallas

DALLAS — The Warriors are on the doorstep of the NBA Finals, one win away from their sixth appearance in eight years. However, they had to get a chunky loss out of the way first. They were down as much as 29 by the fourth quarter, but the clean-up crew managed to close the deficit... (Author: Gardener)

DallasDALLAS, TEXAS - MAY 24: Golden State Warriors' Andrew Wiggins (22) reacts to a foul on him during their game against the Dallas Mavericks late in the fourth quarter of Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference Finals Playoff game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. DALLAS — The Warriors are on the doorstep of the NBA Finals, one win away from their sixth appearance in eight years. Golden State lost Game 4, 119-109, to the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center. Coach Steve Kerr reinstated the starters, to no avail. The result wasn't as ugly as the game. But as Warriors players have attested in these playoffs, closeout games are the hardest to win. The Warriors, still leading 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, have an opportunity to win the series Thursday night at the Chase Center. But let's take a look at some of the lessons we learned from the Game 4 loss. Thunderstorms raging outside caused a ceiling leak to form around the American Airlines Center court, resulting in a 16-minute delay after halftime. The Mavericks hit 20 3-pointers on 43 attempts. Reggie Bullock, who didn't score in Game 3, found his rhythm with six 3-pointers on 10 tries. Dorian Finney-Smith lost four 3-pointers and Luka Dončić hit 3. It was a far cry from the 13-to-45 shooting night Dallas had in Game 3. Their 19-point lead in Game 2, for example, came with 15 first-half 3-points made, but the Warriors overtook that lead when they were unable to repeat their first-half success. "If they can hit 30 3-pointers, they deserve the win," coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors' win. Shooting like that earned Dallas the win on Tuesday. But her success from 3 on Tuesday wasn't all luck, it started with a lackluster defense. Golden State has struggled all season, leaving players wide open in the corners. And Mavericks coach Jason Kidd made adjustments. "The biggest compliment we got is that they have to play Zone because they can't play us one-on-one, right?" Kidd said after the game. Dallas overloaded Golden State's zone defenses on one side, forcing them to rotate their defense and leave one of their five shooters open. In the second half, they had Dončić off the ball, forcing the defense to read. "Playoffs are fun," said Steph Curry. "It's a game of adjustments and you have to figure out if you can't do it in the blink of an eye and you have a game like tonight. For the next 48 hours, get ready and focus on another level of what they did to win the game like they did tonight. Not shooting enough of 3 curries, they attempted five 3-pointers and made two of them, as did Jordan Poole. Klay Thompson attempted six 3-pointers and made two of them. Overall, the team went 10-to-28 from 3 in the game - specifically, they only made 3 threes on 16 tries in the first half and fell well short of the Mavericks' 11 made on 23 tries. The bench unit, thrown in the fourth quarter of a supposed blowout, hit 3 threes alone. Moses Moody hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jonathan Kuminga hit one that helped reduce the Warriors' deficit to eight points. But a heroic display from 19-year-old rookies Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee wasn't enough to cover up the ugly offensive night. "I thought overall the ball didn't move well enough tonight," Kerr said. "Way too much dribble and I thought this group came out and moved the ball better and we got some easy buckets." It was with a heavy heart that the Warriors went into Game 4. The Robb Elementary shooting in nearby Uvalde, Texas prompted Kerr to deliver an emotional pregame speech in which he cried, urging lawmakers to take gun control action. "Especially before the game, before it started," Kerr said. So I was quite emotional and just trying to calm down and coach the team. Once players are on the pitch, they know how to isolate broken hearts from their game mindset. But the Warriors' energy was gone and their game wasn't clear at all in the loss. Andrew Wiggins didn't have the same lead he did in the playoffs. Poor defensive play led to a lack of offensive breakout. "We weren't very vigilant defensively tonight. We weren't sharp," Kerr said. "And I thought we kind of get them into a groove, and once a team like that gets into a three-point groove, it's difficult to get them out."

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Three things that went wrong in the Warriors Game 4 loss to Dallas

"Playoffs are fun," said Steph Curry. "It's an adaptation game." (Author: Gardener)

DallasDALLAS — The Warriors are on the doorstep of the NBA Finals, one win away from their sixth appearance in eight years. Golden State lost Game 4, 119-109, to the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center. Coach Steve Kerr reinstated the starters, to no avail. The result wasn't as ugly as the game. But as Warriors players have attested in these playoffs, closeout games are the hardest to win. The Warriors, still leading 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, have an opportunity to win the series Thursday night at the Chase Center. But let's take a look at some of the lessons we learned from the Game 4 loss. The Mavericks hit 20 3-pointers on 43 attempts. Reggie Bullock, who didn't score in Game 3, found his rhythm with six 3-pointers on 10 tries. Dorian Finney-Smith lost four 3-pointers and Luka Dončić hit 3. It was a far cry from the 13-to-45 shooting night Dallas had in Game 3. Their 19-point lead in Game 2, for example, came with 15 first-half 3-points made, but the Warriors overtook that lead when they were unable to repeat their first-half success. "If they can hit 30 3-pointers, they deserve the win," coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors' win. Shooting like that earned Dallas the win on Tuesday. But her success from 3 on Tuesday wasn't all luck, it started with a lackluster defense. Golden State has struggled all season, leaving players wide open in the corners. And Mavericks coach Jason Kidd made adjustments. "The biggest compliment we got is that they have to play Zone because they can't play us one-on-one, right?" Kidd said after the game. Dallas overloaded Golden State's zone defenses on one side, forcing them to rotate their defense and leave one of their five shooters open. In the second half, they had Dončić off the ball, forcing the defense to read. "It's a game of adjustments and you have to figure out if you can't do it in the blink of an eye and you have a game like tonight. For the next 48 hours, get ready and focus on another level of what they did to win the game like they did tonight. Not shooting enough of 3 curries, they attempted five 3-pointers and made two of them, as did Jordan Poole. Klay Thompson attempted six 3-pointers and made two of them. Overall, the team went 10-to-28 from 3 in the game - specifically, they only made 3 threes on 16 tries in the first half and fell well short of the Mavericks' 11 made on 23 tries. The bench unit, thrown in the fourth quarter of a supposed blowout, hit 3 threes alone. Moses Moody hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jonathan Kuminga hit one that helped reduce the Warriors' deficit to eight points. But a heroic display from 19-year-old rookies Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee wasn't enough to cover up the ugly offensive night. "I thought overall the ball didn't move well enough tonight," Kerr said. "Way too much dribble and I thought this group came out and moved the ball better and we got some easy buckets." It was with a heavy heart that the Warriors went into Game 4. The Robb Elementary shooting in nearby Uvalde, Texas prompted Kerr to deliver an emotional pregame speech in which he cried, urging lawmakers to take gun control action. "Especially before the game, before it started," Kerr said. So I was quite emotional and just trying to calm down and coach the team. Once players are on the pitch, they know how to isolate broken hearts from their game mindset. But the Warriors' energy was gone and their game wasn't clear at all in the loss. Andrew Wiggins didn't have the same lead he did in the playoffs. Poor defensive play led to a lack of offensive breakout. "We weren't very vigilant defensively tonight. We weren't sharp," Kerr said. "And I thought we kind of get them into a groove, and once a team like that gets into a three-point groove, it's difficult to get them out."

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The Warriors bench goes above and beyond in the late rally against the Mavs

The Warriors failed in their quest for a Conference Finals win, but what the bench did in their comeback attempt shouldn't be forgotten. (Author: Gardener)

MavsDALLAS — As the fourth quarter began Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Steve Kerr could see the writing on the wall. It was time to save his stars and get some time on the bench for the last 12 minutes. Little did he or anyone know what a show the Warriors reservists and youngsters would put on before falling 109-100 after going 29 points down going into the final third. The Warriors were 15 points down before halftime, and a 16-minute rain delay at halftime thanks to two leaks in Dallas' roof during a thunderstorm changed nothing. The Mavs continued to rain in and out of the arena, opening the third quarter on a 10-3 run. Golden State was outscored by 14 points in the third quarter, prompting Kerr to start the fourth with a lineup of Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga and Nemanja Bjelica. They didn't play like a group ready to move on with a blowout before getting on a plane in the morning and heading home for Game 5. Not only looking to prove themselves, these five wanted to continue silencing a crowd that was growing quieter by the minute in their quest to sweep the Mavs. Though the end result was a Warriors defeat, this was nothing short of a victory for the second unit. The only question was why Kerr decided to turn to Steph Curry and shortly after Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins with more than three minutes remaining after the reserve reduced the deficit to just eight points after a 3-point corner from Kuminga had. "With about five minutes left, we cut it down to about 14," Kerr told reporters. It felt like we had a chance with three and a half minutes left when we put Steph and Klay and Wiggs in the game. I also felt like the group that had that great run in the fourth quarter might get a little tired there, so I just made the decision to see if we could pull off a miracle. "It wasn't supposed to be. Dallas was great tonight, they deserved the win. They executed, they played with more power and this is the conference finals. You could argue that the bench mob deserved their fight They finished a combined minus 103 in plus minus The bench was a combined plus 53. At the same time, this was the Warriors' chance to finish the Mavs and enjoy a long break before the NBA Finals begin June 2 Curry "Keeping Thompson and Wiggins on the bench as spectators? Anyway, the bench did more than anyone could have imagined. They made 32 of the Warriors' 39 points in the fourth quarter. The ball moved much better in that fourth quarter , something Lee partially attributes to this group fighting on days off and consistently finding that when they're not in the rotation they get game-like action, be it 3v3 or 5v5. The Warriors had just 16 assists in the first three quarters and 10 in the last frame alone. They doubled the mavs in rebounds, stole the ball three times and Moody deflected passes left and right. "Our job was to get out of there, keep playing the game, and try to fight back, and I did that," Moody said. Luka Dončić and the other main Mavs players should have sat back and rested in the fourth quarter. That was not the case. With the Mavs' lead cut to 18 points, Dallas coach Jason Kidd took no chances. Due in large part to the Warriors' backups, Dončić had to play nearly 38 minutes. Jalen Brunson finished the game with 34 minutes, Dorian Finney-Smith with 39 and Reggie Bullock with 38 minutes. That's far from ideal after what looked like a blowout on the Mavs' home court. "Even though we didn't come away with the win, those guys had to play for the rest of the game," Moody said. We had to go back to San Francisco and play them again and they didn't get a break in the second half. "They had to play every 40 minutes." But he scored six points and had four assists in the fourth quarter. That time truly belonged to the Warriors' two rookie teenagers in Kuminga and Moody. Kuminga, 19, led all scorers in the fourth quarter with 10 points. After Otto Porter Jr. suffered from left foot pain, Kuminga earned the veteran's rotation spot after not playing a second in the last two games. He ended up playing 22 minutes off the bench where he scored 19 points along with nine rebounds and finished as a plus-9. Moody, 19, also earned his place in the rotation and started the second quarter again. In 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, Moody scored eight points, hit both of his 3-point attempts, grabbed two rebounds and walked away with two steals. He ended up playing 23 minutes, scoring 10 points and was up 4. Those two lottery picks from last year are now only behind Kobe Bryant in minutes played by a 19-year-old in a conference finals series. For a team still led by grizzled veterans in Curry, Thompson and Green, it's more than heartening to see what two young pups are doing so deep in the playoffs. "It's been great because they've had an opportunity to go out there and make an impact, impact the game, build some confidence and experience in this series and how it feels to be out there," Curry said. “Since Otto is out, GP is out, there are minutes available and for us to finish this series, Game 5, I am sure they will play some minutes out there. The Warriors didn't get the job done Tuesday night in their Game 4 loss. But the bench, led by the future of the franchise, went above and beyond to push the Mavs to the limit. It should be felt in two nights and later this post-season and possibly further beyond that for years to come.

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Why this latest installment in the Dubs dynasty is the most rewarding

These Golden State Warriors' final trip to the NBA Finals, which requires a win over the Dallas Mavericks, will be their most rewarding. (Author: Gardener)

the Dubs dynastyYour Golden State Warriors are - miraculously admit it - just a single win away from a slightly less proud return to the NBA Finals. It was a messy campaign that I may have been working on all season, but undeniably successful now. That run to the finals (knock on the laws of probability wood) will possibly stand as her most inspiring achievement since the 2015 campaign. Surely it's the most unlikely. Golden State has long been vilified for myriad reasons, sometimes just, sometimes not, and their long list of accolades have been undermined or bitterly asterisked, but this postseason is without a doubt one of their greatest achievements in the Stephen Curry era, especially in light of the Regular season turmoil. A team willing to be the best version of their imperfect selves is a beautiful thing. And already another very long season of NBA basketball is almost in the history books of the recent past. The aforementioned sweepers, the Boston Celtics, are now the consensus-best team in the league but spent the first half of the season calling out to one another and attending player-only meetings before Ime Udoka's stern hand scared them straight . On the opposite coast, the Los Angeles Lakers fielded an unsuccessful superteam based solely on how good their regulars were in the final years of the Obama presidency. The Utah Jazz once again came ridiculously close to earning our respect, but the Memphis Grizzlies announced themselves with exclamation points. Giannis and the Bucks lost Khris Middleton at the worst possible time. But unlike many years past, there was an intriguing, unfamiliar quality to how everything would shake as we neared closure. There was never a definite hegemon that felt truly inevitable at any point. The team that came closest to that sort of ironclad last-man-standing inevitability was the Phoenix Suns, who, as no one should ever let you forget, flamed in a compelling way against the very same upstart Dallas Mavericks the Warriors are currently in have thrown a dropkick pit. The Mavericks, who should have won Game 2 against Golden State and definitely could have won Game 3, just weren't quite ready yet. The Warriors have respectfully postponed Luka Doncic's coming out party. That's good and right. J. Carlesimo coached this team and has been there longer than Luka. He will be back shortly. Maybe not these warriors. The balance found this season has more or less worked (sometimes more, sometimes less), but Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have all looked very mortal more often than ever this year. This isn't knocking; only the linear progression of time is mentioned. Jordan Poole is a deadly threat to be reckoned with on offense, but his slippery footwork and cunning around the basket in no way translated to the defensive end. Jonathan Kuminga is at least a year or two away from unleashing his full arsenal of potential. James Wiseman remains a 7ft question mark. Joe Lacob's bridge to the future will tilt more in favor of the future with each passing year as the Big Three grow gray facial hair. Whatever the future holds, it's the short-term present that has fought its way through at the high stakes at this hour, rumored to have sanctified this unlikely third act of the warrior dynasty, the most precarious act but in many ways already the greatest rewarding, especially after these two lost years. Previous Warriors teams spent nearly a decade making a leisurely stroll to the finals look insultingly easy. This time, this season, it certainly wasn't an effortless outing or a carefree stroll in the park. Like those amazing San Francisco Giants teams, nothing was easy; It was a defiant campaign led by the old boys who beat their sundown away and eventually became a bizarre world version of the Rasputin-era San Antonio Spurs. It was often reminiscent of the squads before Durant, you know, back when the Warriors were rowdy high-flyers, all inspiring defense and game-changing offensive spins. But this team's regular-season version has always felt only slightly ajar from their fully formed selves. At their lowest point, it seemed like a reasonable conclusion that they were headed for a first-round exit. They rose to the occasion, outlasted the MVP, then a wild and deep Grizzlies team, and now they're about to put down one of the next faces in the league. Championship save or a win against Boston or Miami, this team went ahead and leaned into the best version of themselves at that crucial point. You can't make me feel bad about this team right now. How long that will take, who can say, but hopefully until at least October 2022. The 20 Best Dating Apps of 2022 These Are the Best Deals on Amazon Today Some may find this kind of emotional resolution premature until a) the Warriors die Mavericks officially dispatch or b) they continue to defy fathertime and conventional wisdom and steal another championship ring. Again, not to hex the one team that certainly doesn't need to be hexed, but I decided to watch the finale with a Don Draper sense of enlightenment from the series finale. I'll take a "smile because it happened" attitude. Win or lose, the Warriors play with house money from now on. This is my "Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Warriors." There are always issues that need to be addressed next season, things that need to be addressed, but outcomes like these tend to wipe out season-long ailments and roster-related illnesses, at least temporarily. Sure, I'm still doing a little, but I'll move on to We Appreciate. I haven't done that nearly enough this year and will make up for lost time while things remain at a high level. Briefly recall a non-exhaustive list of things they overcame or survived this season: - a tailspin in the second half after a blistering start - Steph Curry lost his touch of three after breaking the all-time record - an absolute losing year for James Wiseman - significant missed time for every member of the Big 3 (and Andre Iguodala) - several embarrassing crunch-time moments of casual breakup (Dallas, Indiana, Orlando, etc.) - so many games with Big Hungover Energy too start and see opponents' double-digit leads predictably Next season will surely bring new problems and (possibly) new solutions and (certainly) new frustrations. But this year, this unlikely year, the warriors got the message. So, take a breath or a shot of soju or whatever it is that centers you and calibrates your mind and make an effort to just enjoy what's next and remind yourself who this team is and what a run it is you know what that means, except for Joe Lacob, who pats himself on the back and calls himself a genius. Put simply, this one feels special. These aren't the bulletproof, reality-warping teams of the Durant years. They're not even the young side of 2014-16 that chased wins and played with unsustainable panache. They are something different and new, something unfinished and imperfect. Whatever they are, they've managed to regain a joy that was once out of place. In doing so, they became the best kind of team to cheer for. Once lost, but now found and now finally, for the first time, an underdog who needs to prove himself. It feels good. So good that even if the Warriors lose by 60 on Tuesday night, my blood pressure will be fine.

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Caturday Night Fever: Tony Gonsolin appears as a star

Dominant breaking pitches have turned Tony Gonsolin into a cool cat. (Author: Gardener)

Tony GonsolinMaybe it's because the last few years have felt like a decade, but it feels like Tony Gonsolin has been around for a while. However, the Dodgers' 6'3" right-hander has amassed just 175.1 major league innings since his debut in 2019. Thanks to a Covid-shortened season and a few IL stints related to shoulder pain in 2021, he's pitched about as many innings as you'd expect from a traditional starter in a single MLB season. In those 175.1 innings, broken down into 34 starts and eight relief appearances, the former 9th-round pick has had a solid if unspectacular 178 strikeouts to 71 walks. Much more impressive is that in his 3+ year career to date he has carried an ERA of just 2.62 and a WHIP of 1.078. So what is Gonsolin doing, leading its elite numbers? Gonsolin's repertoire consisted of a four-sailer that sat a little under 94 MPH combined with a Reagan-era splitter and an 87 MPH slider with just a pinch of a diving curveball thrown in in his first three seasons. His mix was four-seam heavy, but the supply was still less than 50% of the pitches thrown. This year, however, Gonsolin has thrown more of his breaking pitches, resulting in a more even mix. He's using his four-sail about ten percent less than in previous seasons, while using all three of his breaking and off-speed pitches more often than he did in 2021. And there's a very good reason why Gonsolin has pitched his splitter to almost 30% its pitches. He creates more vertical movement on it than ever before. The chart below shows how dramatically his sliver has improved in terms of vertical movement since joining the league. So far this season, this splitter has two inches more slope than average for this pitch in the majors. Gonsolin's Shards have already been credited with eight saves and opponents are batting just .130 against this year. And that wasn't even his best pitch in that regard. These pitches have also generated puff rates of 38.9% and 37.5%, respectively. So far opponents are hitting .344 and hitting a sturdy .625 against the four sailor. It's obviously been his least effective offering so far, but he's only using it about a third of the time and is going there less and less. It's also worth noting that despite such strong puff rates on his breaking pitches, Gonsolin ranks in the bottom half (44th percentile) of the league in overall puff rate, thanks in large part to his poor 8.6% puff rate on this four-seam fastball . He does slightly better on the overall strikeout rate, ranking in the 52nd percentile. His only other glaring flaw is his walk rate, which sits at 11.4%, putting him just in the bottom quartile of MLB pitchers. Tony Gonsolin is known to love cats. And this season he's brought about a contact as soft as a kitten's fur. Its average allowable exit speed is 87.1 mph, which ranks 24th among starting pitchers and places in the top quartile. He is third among qualifying starters at only 1.5 barrel/PA%. Even better, he leads all of Major League Baseball in hard-hit percentage, allowing hard shots on just 23.3 percent of balls hit. The 20 balls he's allowed to hit at 95 mph or harder is the lowest total among starting pitchers, easily beating Zach Eflin (24) and Max Scherzer (28), who are ranked 2nd and 3rd. Obviously Gonsolin has been fantastic this season. His average draft slot overall was about 265, which would have made him a final round flyer in mixed standard leagues and placed him outside the top 80 starting pitchers. So far he was the 17th most valuable starter in the standard 5×5 classification. Even with the return of the dead-ball era, it's asking a lot for a pitcher to maintain an ERA under two runs per game, and Gonsolin probably won't do it because it's unlikely a pitcher will. He throws a nice, even mix of pitches with tons of movement and makes some of the softest contacts in the league. I'd like to see the walk rate drop a bit, and he's only served more than five innings twice in seven starts, so quality starts might not be all that common. I think it's important to list players you really like in real life and Gonsolin seems like a really likable player. Gonsolin is currently slated for his next start next Saturday, May 21 in the Phillies. It's a great test early in the season against a strong Philly offense. Take the opportunity to see Gonsolin for yourself, and maybe check out a pair of fine cat slippers while you enjoy the game.

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