The Dallas Mavericks aren't going home just yet. Facing elimination at home in Game 4, they responded to get their first win of the Western Conference finals, beating the Golden State Warriors 119-109 on Tuesday night. The series, which now stands 3-1 in favor of the Warriors will head back to the Bay Area for Game 5 on Thursday night.
After a competitive first quarter, the Mavericks opened up a double-digit lead in the second quarter and led by 15 heading into the break. Then, play was halted due to a leak in the roof of the American Airlines Center. When play finally did resume, the Mavericks picked up right where they left off and built a 29-point lead with some incredible 3-point shooting. While the Warriors' reserves led a spirited comeback that briefly cut the deficit to single digits late in the fourth quarter, the game was never truly in doubt.
Luka Doncic was not as his most efficient, but led the way with 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. The main story for the Mavericks, though, was their 3-point shooting. They went 20 of 43 from downtown to improve to 7-3 in the playoffs when they make more than 15 3s. Reggie Bullock hit six of them en route to 18 points.
This was not a great performance from the Warriors, though their fourth-quarter surge makes some of the overall stats look OK. Steph Curry had a team-high 20 points, but shot just 7 of 16 from the field. Jonathan Kuminga was a bright spot in defeat with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Here are some key takeaways as Dallas avoided a sweep:
Mavs have an incredible night from 3-point land
The Mavericks' offensive attack is built around the 3-point shot, to the extent that they often live and die by whether or not those shots go in. Aside from the first half of Game 2, they have not in this series, which is why the Mavericks were down 3-0 and facing elimination.
In Game 4 they found their stroke, going 20 of 43 from downtown en route to a series-saving win. They doubled up the Warriors from the outside, outscoring them by 30 points from 3-point land, which was too big of a margin to make up. The Mavericks are now 7-3 in the playoffs when they make at least 15 3-pointers, and 2-4 when they don't reach that mark.
Reggie Bullock, who went 0 of 10 from the field and didn't score a single point in the Game 3 loss, led the way in Game 4 by making a team-high six 3-pointers. The rest of the squad got in on the act as well, with eight different Mavericks hitting at least one triple.
Making 20 3-pointers in a game is obviously easier said than done, but the Mavericks are going to need more performance like this if they want to keep extending this series.
Doncic continues to excel in elimination games
Luka Doncic's status as one of the best players in the league was reaffirmed prior to the game when he was named to the All-NBA First Team for the third consecutive season. The only other player with an active three-year streak of First Team appearances is Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If for some reason you still weren't convinced of Doncic's brilliance, he offered more proof when the game got underway. While he wasn't at his most efficient, he was doing everything for the Mavericks and finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks.
There are few players who can control a game like Doncic, and he was not going to let the Mavericks lose. Perhaps that shouldn't have been surprising given his dominance when facing elimination. Doncic and the Mavs are now 3-0 in must-win games this postseason, and for his career Doncic is averaging 36.6 points in elimination games, which is the highest scoring average in such situations in league history.
A weird night of basketball
Overall, this was one of the weirdest nights of basketball we've seen during the playoffs. Most notably, there was a rain delay that extended halftime to nearly 30 minutes. A leak opened up in the roof of the American Airlines Center, which sent water falling to the court right next to the Warriors' bench. Arena workers had to climb up onto the catwalks near the roof and set up a tarp system to catch the water.
That alone would have made this a bizarre night, but the oddities didn't stop there. In the middle of the third quarter, Draymond Green went to the free throw line and his first attempt bounced around before coming to a complete stop on the back of the rim. Everyone was laughing, even Green who shared a smile with Doncic in the moment.
Finally, from a pure skill (luck) standpoint, Doncic had one of the most impressive makes of the entire postseason, and it didn't even count. After a stoppage in play, he launched the ball some twenty feet into the air, and as it came down it bounced once, then rattled around the rim and went in.
Strange, strange stuff. Hopefully Game 5 will be more normal; a bit of competitiveness wouldn't hurt either.