One of the many things about the playoffs that is hard to describe to casual fans is the unrelenting nature of games. They just keep coming. That there were two days between game one and game two then again with game two and game there was a relief. There was time to process, assess, and think about what’s coming next.
With one day between a Friday night game and a Sunday night game, there’s not near as much time for reflection. There’s time mainly for reaction.
We’ve attempted to tell you what we saw during the game, the data which adds some context the game, and some of the reasons for why things happened. the way they did in the game three loss. But in the end, it matters only for a moment because Sunday night is their chance to atone for the loss and to put the Clippers firmly on the ropes.
Here’s some things to think about today leading up to the game:
Rim protection must improve
This is a given, considering all that’s been discussed from both the Mavericks and the Clippers. Los Angeles realized that Dallas stinks at defending the rim and it’s now on the Mavericks to do something to impede the parade into the lane.
It starts with Dorian Finney-Smith not playing on roller skates. It ends with Kristaps Porzingis and Willie Cauley-Stein doing something at the rim on defending shots. Defense is a team effort and all the Dallas players have to try harder. It worked for the Clippers in game three. It can work for the Mavericks in game four. Effort and focus are as large a part of defense as game planning, scheme, and talent.
Luka Doncic’s health
Rick Carlisle seemed positive in his comments today and he’s usually one to use the injury report as a pawn in his larger game. It seems Doncic has a pinched nerve and it’s really uncomfortable. Not to compare what happened to Doncic to anything that could happen to us, but any older person who has slept in a weird position knows the strange pain that Luka was feeling on Friday night. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be uncomfortable.
Role players settling down
This hasn’t been talked about much, largely due to Kristaps Porzingis playing so poorly over shadowing much of the dialogue the past day or so, but the Dallas role players stank up the room.
Dorian Finney-Smith’s shot 4 of 16 from the floor the last two games and defended terribly. Jalen Brunson’s scoring some, but he’s not passing or looking to pass much and getting trucked on defense as he’s smaller. Tim Hardaway lost the thread some for the first time in weeks, missing all his two point shots (and the Clippers targeted him on defense). Josh Richardson pressed on offense and didn’t matter on defense. There were just FOUR TOTAL ASSISTS from players not named Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis.
The energy in the arena was insane, but it seemed to overwhelm the entire team. After getting off to a crazy start, the moment seemed to big for most of the team and they never recovered emotionally draining first quarter.
Everyone, from Luka Doncic to the end of bench need to take a deep breath. They can do this.