The Dallas Mavericks had the correct mindset going into Game 2 of their series versus the Golden State Warriors: be relentless.
That’s the only way to beat this version of the Warriors, a team that has gone through various cycles and many iterations. Yet the core value of running opponents out of the arena remains. As long as Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson are in Dubs jerseys, you have to be relentless—or risk getting blown out.
The Mavs didn’t do that in Game 1 and were subsequently outran and outplayed. In Game 2, they switched it up and became the aggressor right out of the gate. It worked immediately. They jumped to a big lead early by uncharacteristically picking up the pace.
Dallas also shot the ball well—a far better improvement from Game 1. Four Mavericks made at least three 3s in the first half. As a team, they shot 56 percent from outside. The result was a 14-point halftime lead by Dallas.
The Warriors’ energy never wavered though. Despite Luka Doncic having one of those Luka Doncic games, there was never a sense that the Warriors were out of it. They just kept knocking, kept pushing, kept waiting for the Mavericks to calm down.
It happened after the break, at the Warriors’ favorite time of the game. Don’t get caught slipping because this is when they pounce. And pounced they did on the slipping Mavs.
They turned up the offense and locked down on defense, allowing only 13 points in the third. What was once a 19-point Mavericks lead was trimmed to 2 entering the fourth. What was once a hot-shooting team turned ice-cold.
It continued on in the fourth, and to simplify things, it was Game 1 all over again. The Warriors outscored the Mavericks by 23 points in the second half, in the process turning Kevon Looney into Hakeem Olajuwon; Jordan Poole into good Jordan Poole; and Steph Curry into, well, Steph Curry.
Curry hit six 3s for a team-high 32 points while Poole chipped in 23. Looney feasted inside and dropped a career-high 21 points.
Doncic put on a better show with 42 points, but the scoring distribution was top-heavy for Dallas. Jalen Brunson contributed 31 points and Reggie Bullock hung 21, but other than those three guys, the rest of the Mavs were shut down. The relentlessness tapered off.
On the other hand, the Warriors never stopped shooting and believing, even if the Mavericks were being good. Up to the end, they were relentless.