The Dallas Mavericks, led by Luka Dončić, stole the show against the Golden State Warriors on the road on Sunday. The Mavs, who were down by as many as 21 points, overwhelmed the Dubs thanks to their lethal defense and Dončić's late-game execution.
The Mavs' fifth league-best creative defense exploited the Warriors' weak spots by utilizing their small-switchable lineups. Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd exerted Davis Bertans at the five, which helped the team switch on screens that trapped the Warriors' shooting and penetration offense.
The Mavericks also fought over screens that helped them stay in front of the Warriors' players, and because of this, Golden State ended up settling for inefficient shots and bad looks at the rim.
Luka magic and manipulation
Besides the Mavs' ferocious defense, Dončić's 34 points and 11 rebounds powered the team on offense. The Slovenian guard made it a point to hunt Steph Curry on switches which not only collapsed the Warriors' defense but also freed up the shooters of Dallas. In these clips, look at how Doncic takes the matchup with Curry personally and uses his physical strength and size against him to score a crucial bucket.
Hunting Curry was a recurring theme in the fourth quarter. With this strategy, the Mavs, who went on a 28-7 run in the last period, manipulated the Warriors' offense in crunch time. Luckily for them, Spencer Dinwiddie's 24 points, Dorian Finney-Smith's 14 points, and Reggie Bullock's 12 points contributed to their successful performance all night -- here's a single highlight of another brilliant execution by Dončić's teammates, who found ways to score down the stretch.
In their Sunday's performance, the Mavericks showed that they're a dangerous team. Unlike in the previous seasons, they no longer depend on Dončić as much because every player on the floor can somehow contribute to offense and defense. The encouraging sign of the Mavericks' system now is that everyone eats — whether that's Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, or Bullock, they all pose as threats to the opposing team's defense.
The Mavericks, who have the 16th best offense in the league, still have a few more improvements to make, specifically when scoring and moving the ball. But at least they have 21 games remaining in the regular season to polish this. With their impressive defense and high ability to execute down the stretch, this is a team nobody wants to face in the Playoffs — especially if Dončić continues to be as unstoppable as he was against the Warriors on Sunday.