Curry, Thompson, Green are back in NBA Finals

After three years away, the Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals after defeating the Mavericks 120-110 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. 

Golden State won the series 4-1.

The NBA Finals begin next Thursday at Chase Center.

The Warriors last made the Finals in 2019 when they lost to the Toronto Raptors, and that was with Kevin Durant leading the way. 

Durant is off in Brooklyn, who got swept in their opening round series by the Celtics, while Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are on their way to the Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons.

After Durant left, things went south for the Warriors as they missed the playoffs the past two seasons. It’s been rough for the Warriors, but now they are back.

“The fact me, Klay, Draymond, from 2015 to now, six out of eight years having a chance to compete for a championship,” Curry, who had 15 points and nine assists and won the Magic Johnson Western Conference finals MVP, said after the win. “The feeling leaving 2019 Finals and realizing, like, we had been on an amazing journey, then got hit with a lot of adversity, some speed bumps, but never lost the faith we could get back here.”

Green, who had 17 points, six rebounds, and nine assists, added: “After being counted out, dynasty is over, all of those things. To get back here it’s fantastic. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication and to an incredible organization. We continue to stick with it, show what we’re capable of. This one feels great. But got four more wins to get.”

Thompson missed the past two years after tearing his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals and tearing his Achilles in 2020, and he was big-time in Game 5 as he had a game-high 32 points, including eight threes. After the game, Thompson was emotional, and he explained why.

“Just such a surreal feeling,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to put into words, really. This time last year, I was just starting to jog again and get up and down the court. Now to be feeling like myself, feeling explosive, feeling sure in my movements, I’m just grateful. All those emotions kind of rushed through me, and I thought about our training staff, I thought about Rick Celebrini, I thought about Steve, I thought about those days me and Rick were together in Santa Cruz, and I was in a terrible mood.

“We were together in the summertime. All those long days. They would tell me it would pay off. It was hard to see that at the time. Now to actually be here, I can feel it paying off.”

Golden State is back, and they are playing at a high level. Plus, they will have homecourt advantage in the Finals. In addition, the Warriors could get back Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II.

However, they have to still win four more games. Based on the way they’re playing right now, the Warriors will be the favorites and will be tough to beat.

Cavs’ Markkanen: ‘Our size bothers other teams’

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have had their best performance of the season against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. Cleveland led by as many as 31 points, and the Cavaliers got their largest road victory of the season 114-96 at American Airlines Center.

After losing five straight, Cleveland(11-10) has won two in a row, while Dallas(10-9) has lost two straight and five of their last six.

Cleveland won in Dallas for the first time since 2017.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Dallas.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Jarrett Allen had a career-high 28 points(11/17 FG) to go along with a game-high 14 rebounds against Dallas. He killed the Mavs on lobs from Garland. In fact, seven of Garland’s nine assists went to Allen. Allen finished the game with a game-high +30 rating. This was Allen’s fourth straight double-double.

-Lauri Markkanen had a season-high 24 points, including a team-high five threes. Markkanen also added eight rebounds. He scored 20-points for the fourth time in his last five games. Since November 1, Markkanan is averaging 20.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest.

-Darius Garland got anywhere he wanted on the floor against Dallas. Garland had 18 points and nine assists. He was penetrating and was doing a lot of swishing and dishing. It’s great to see him play with so much confidence this season, and in the last six games, Garland is averaging 22.7 points and 8.2 assists.

First Half: Cleveland shot 51% in the first half and played solid defense in that half as they held Dallas to 36% shooting from the field, including 5/22(23%) from three-point range. Allen(11) and Garland(10) combined for 21 points. Cleveland took a 52-41 lead at halftime.

Third Quarter: The Cavs were sizzling in the third. They shot 68% from the field, including 5/7 from downtown. Garland and Allen connected on multiple alley-oops, and Allen(5/6 FG) had 13 points and six rebounds in third, while Garland(3-3 FG) added eight points and five assists. Cleveland led by as many as 24 points in the quarter. The Cavs were in complete control and took a 22-point lead into the fourth.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Cleveland did have 17 turnovers on Monday night, but hey, that doesn’t matter too much when you win by 18 points.

Bottom Line:

What an impressive victory for Cleveland. They dominated that third quarter. They got another excellent performance from their bigs as Allen, Evan Mobley, and Markkanen combined for 64 points. This was a total team effort as Cleveland had six players, including all five starters in double figures. Right now, the Cavaliers are fairly healthy and playing with a lot of confidence.

“I think having three bigs out there is something teams haven’t seen a lot,” Markkanen said after the game. “Our size bothers other teams.”

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers continue their three-game road trip Wednesday night against the Miami Heat.

Best of the Rest:

Luka Doncic had a triple-double and led the Mavs with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists; Maxi Kleber was the only other Mav in double-figures with 13 points.

Mobley had 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks; Isaac Okoro had 10 points.

Cleveland was without Cedi Osman (lower back soreness) and Dean Wade (calf strain).

Kristaps Porzingis added nine points, five rebounds and four blocks before exiting the game in the third quarter with a right ankle injury.

Listen below as Allen, Markkanen, and Garland talk win over Dallas:

Mavs’ Kidd: ‘We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will’

The Atlanta Hawks came into the 2021-22 season trying to prove that last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals wasn’t a fluke, while the Mavericks, with a new coach in Jason Kidd, are hoping to make a deep playoff run of their own. 

After one game, Atlanta looks deeper than they did last season and a team that will definitely be a factor in Eastern Conference. The Hawks had six players in double figures led by Cam Reddish’s 20 points off the bench, Trae Young had 19 points and 14 assists, and John Collins 16 points and nine rebounds as the Hawks routed the Mavericks 113-87 at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night.

The Hawks were big-time on the defensive end; they held the Mavericks to 33% shooting from the field and forced 15 turnovers. Atlanta blew the game open in the third quarter with 22-8 run. The Hawks led by as many as 22 points in the third and had their largest lead of 30 in the fourth. 

Young got off in the third. He scored 12 points and nine assists in the quarter, and Kidd, who knows a lot about excellent point guard play, talked about Young’s passing and Dallas’ struggles in the third.

“He’s improved, and I said that before,” Kidd said about Young. “He’s gotten better each year on the one side of passing the ball and not turning it over… “In the first half, we couldn’t ask for a better defensive performance. We just couldn’t make any shots. You’re talking about an All-Star in Young.. We gotta get better in that third quarter, and we will.”

Doncic, who led the Mavericks with 18 points on 6/17 shooting from the field, added on the third quarter: “They were making shots, and we weren’t making shots. They played great defense, and we weren’t at their level on defense, so that’s it.”

The Mavericks may struggle initially as the team learns to adjust to Kidd’s new offense and style, and it’s only one of 82, so there’s not much to worry about at this point. Plus, Atlanta appears to be a very good team.

Dallas gets back at it on Saturday in Toronto against the Raptors. 

 

 

Hardaway Jr. officially signs with Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks have officially signed guard Tim Hardaway Jr., the team announced on Monday.

According to reports, it’s a four-year, $72 million deal.

Last season, the eight-year veteran averaged 16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists per game. Hardaway hit a career-high 207 3-pointers (8th-most in the NBA), the second-most in franchise history. After Hardaway served the role of “sixth man” early in the season, he closed out the season in the starting lineup. 

Dallas originally acquired the 29-year-old Hardaway Jr. on January 21, 2019, along with Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke, in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round draft picks.

Hardaway jr. had some good moments last season and is a player who is a knockdown shooter. He’s a good piece alongside Luka Doncic. He could be a starter or come off the bench and bring instant offense for Dallas next season.

Mavs’ Doncic named Western Conference Player of the Week

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, April 19 through Sunday, April 25, the league announced on Monday.

This marks the fourth time in his career and third time this season he has received the honor (Nov. 18-24, 2019; Jan. 4-10, 2021; March 29-April 3, 2021). Dončić joins Denver’s Nikola Jokić and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as players to have received the honor three times this season.

When Doncic won player of the week earlier this month, he joined Dirk Nowitzki (2002-03, 2006-07, 2009-10, 2010-11) and Josh Howard (2006-07) as the only Mavericks to garner the award multiple times in the same season. He also joined Nowitzki (16 times), Michael Finley (three) and Jason Kidd (three) as the only Dallas players to win the award at least three times in his career. Nowitzki holds the franchise record for player of the week honors in a single season with four (2009-10).

Doncic led the Mavericks to a 3-0 week at home with averages of 26.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 10.0 assists and 1.7 steals.

The two-time All-Star recorded back-to-back 30-point games against Detroit (4/21) and the Lakers (4/22). The games were his 17th and 18th with 30+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists, which leads the NBA.

To open the week against Detroit, Doncic recorded 30 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals in the 127-117 victory.

The following night, in the first of two consecutive victories against the reigning NBA champion Lakers, Dončić led all scorers with 30 points, including 17 in the second half, to go with nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals as the Mavericks won 115-110.

The Mavericks concluded the week with a 108-93 win versus Los Angeles (4/24). Doncic contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists on the night.

In 54 games this season, Doncic is averaging 28.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.0 steals on a career-high 48.3% from the floor. Among league leaders, the Slovenian ranks fourth in scoring, assists and triple-doubles (nine).

Washington’s Bradley Beal joins Doncic as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

Redick on Doncic, Porzingis: ‘They’re both the proverbial unicorn’

The Dallas Mavericks(25-21) continue their five-game road trip on Friday night when they travel to New York to face the Knicks(24-24). Dallas is currently 2-1 on this trip, including a 113-108 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night. 

In that game, Luka Doncic was red-hot. The two-time All-Star led the Mavericks with 36 points (11-15 FG, 7-11 3FG), eight rebounds, and five assists in 35 minutes for his 15th 30-5-5 game of the season.

Currently, the Mavericks are 25-21 and are the seventh-seed in the Western Conference. Seeds 7-10 will battle it out in the play-in games, so if Dallas wants to avoid that, they have to get the sixth spot, which is occupied by the Blazers, who have a 3.5 game lead on the Mavericks.

Kristaps Porzingis makes another return to New York City, and he’s playing well. Porzingis is averaging 24.8 points (.469 FG%), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game over his last four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds against Boston. 

The 25-year-old Porzingis, selected by the Knicks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, spent three seasons in the “Big Apple” and became an All-Star in 2018. Ultimately, the 7-3 star, who tore his ACL in 2018, wanted out of New York and was traded to Dallas with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks. 

While things did not work out for Porzingis in NYC, he does miss the city.

 “I miss the city; I miss this place,” Porzingis said via Zoom on Thursday. “A lot of great memories. Every time I come back, it’s special. A lot of people here still recognize me and show me love and support. It’s always good to come back.”

It should be interesting to see how Porzingis plays tonight against New York. Last season, in two matchups against the Knicks, both losses, Porzingis averaged 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game, which is his highest career scoring average against any team. 

Dallas finishes their five-game road trip on Saturday night in Washington against the Wizards.

Notes:

JJ Redick met with the Dallas media for the first time on Thursday. Redick and Nicolo Melli were acquired by the Mavs from New Orleans before the trade deadline.

Redick appeared in 31 games this season for New Orleans, averaging 8.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. The 36-year-old Redick, who is out with a right heel injury, wanted to be traded to an East Coast team. However, he’s excited to play with Doncic and Porzingis.

“Well, they’re great players,” he said. “I’m very excited to play with them. In a sense, they’re both the proverbial unicorn. There’s not many people at seven-foot-three that can do what KP does, and Luka is as good as anybody in the league at creating his own shot and creating for other people. I’ve been very fortunate to play with some great players in my career, and those two guys are going to be at top of the list for sure.”

Carlisle on Luka: ‘Sometimes you simply run out of adjectives to describe how good he is’

The Dallas Mavericks(21-18) were looking to avenge Monday’s loss to the Clippers(26-16) on Wednesday night, and behind their All-Star guard Luka Doncic, Dallas defeated the Clippers at home 105-89 in the second of their two-game set with Los Angeles.

Doncic was 16-28 from the field, including 6-11 from three-point range. He also had nine assists, six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Doncic has now scored 40-plus against the Clippers on three occasions (incl. playoffs), his most against any team. 

It was like a playoff game at American Airlines Center on Wednesday night, which Doncic discussed after the game. 

“They’re a really good defensive team,” Doncic said about the Clippers. “The past two games were like playoffs.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle ran out of words to describe the greatness of Doncic.

“Luka [Dončić] was spectacular,” Carlisle said. “Sometimes, you simply run out of adjectives to describe how good he is. But he was exceptionally good tonight, and we needed every point, every rebound, every assist, and defensively, he was terrific as well.”

Maxi Kleber, who had 12 points for Dallas on Wednesday night, has a lot of confidence when Doncic shoots the basketball.

“Sometimes, when I am on the court, it feels the same way,” he said. “You see him attack the guys, and he takes an easy step back; that looks so simple for him, but every time he shoots it, you think that is cash. He creates a little bit of space, and he doesn’t need much, and he shoots it, and every time the ball goes up, I think it is a basket. Today he just did incredible things. He was scoring on every possession, it felt like. He is a very rare and special talent. I think that was Luka Magic everybody has been seeing all year long here.”

Dallas now travels to Portland to face the Blazers in a two-game set starting on Friday, and according to Josh Richardson, Dallas will be ready.

“It’s my first year in the Western Conference,” he said. “Seeing all these tough opponents every night is tough. It’s a grind. But I think we have the players and the depth to fight through that and to be able to go out and battle.”

Notes:

Paul George led the Clippers with 28 points (5-8 3FG), 7 rebounds and 5 assists in 41 minutes.

Kawhi Leonard had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for the Clippers. Leonard has scored 20+ points in 21 of his last 22 games.

Mavs’ Richardson: ‘We have so much talent on this roster from the first man to the 15th man’

The last time the Dallas Mavericks(20-17) went into Denver back in January, they won 124-117 in OT, but COVID-19 impacted the team after that game. Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and Josh Richardson missed multiple games due to health and safety protocols.

On Saturday night, Dallas returned to Denver, and just as they did in January, they got the victory. Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points and Luka Doncic had 21 points and 12 assists as the Mavericks defeated the Nuggets(22-16) 116-103. 

“After a very poor start, going down 10-nothing, and we really gathered ourselves well, finished the first quarter strong within a point,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “The second quarter was much, much better, and then, we were able to create more distance, and we did a lot of good things.”

Dallas led by as many as 21 points and was in complete control after three quarters. 

The Mavericks also got another strong game from Josh Richardson, who scored 20 points, including 4/5 from three-point range. The Mavericks are 16-6 when Richardson scores in double figures, and according to Carlisle, Richardson has been a leader on the defensive end.

“Nobody is talking about it, but Josh Richardson has really stepped up in the last two weeks and has been a leader for us defensively, out front on the ball, getting on guys,” Carlisle said. “He’s been one of our leaders. We’re a team that can score, and we’re in a process of developing a collective will for our defense.”

Richardson added on the team: “I think we’re starting to figure out how to play for each other. We have so much talent on this roster from the first man to the 15th man.”

Dallas has now won 12 of their last 16 games and now go home to play a two-game set with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Dallas is currently in the 8th-seed in the Western Conference. If they want to make noise in the playoffs, they probably want to get higher in the standings,  and right now, the talent is there for this team to continue to climb the standings out West. 

 

 

Luka on missed game-winning three: ‘I was disappointed when I saw that the shot did not end up falling down’

There was a duel in Dallas on Sunday night between Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard. Doncic had more points, but Lillard made the biggest shot.

Late in the fourth, with the game tied at 116, Lillard made a step-back three that put the Blazers up by 3. Dallas had a chance to tie the game, but Doncic’s three-point shot rimmed out, and the Blazers snapped the Mavericks’ four-game losing streak and escaped with a 121-118 road victory. 

“Our intention was to run and get the ball out of his hands,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said about Lillard. “We’d gone through that in our prep. Part of it’s the mask, and part of it’s the noise in the arena or whatever. The communication didn’t get there, and he hit a difficult shot, but it’s a shot he makes regularly. It’s a tough shot.”

Lillard led the Blazers with 34 points, 11 assists, and three rebounds. Doncic finished with 44 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. Doncic now has the most points by a player in consecutive games in franchise history with 90 points in his last two games (46 on Friday), but after the game, he was upset with himself for missing that game-tying three.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m confident or not,” Doncic said. “If the shot doesn’t go in, that’s what matters. I was disappointed when I saw that the shot did not end up falling down at the end.”

Doncic is playing very well right now for Dallas and has hit a nice groove. However, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle wants to do more to lighten Doncic’s load going forward.

“He’s got a great rhythm,” Carlisle said about Doncic. “He’s shooting the ball tremendously well. Of course, I’m concerned that the load he’s carrying is a difficult load to carry on a game-to-game basis. I’ve got to try to get some more balance in our attack. It’s just a lot to ask of Luka to put together 40-point stat-stuffer nights on a night-in, night-out basis. I feel like we’ve got to do some things to get other guys helping with carrying that load.”

The Mavericks finish up their seven-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Pistons.

Doncic on Mavs: ‘We have to stay positive’

In an NBA season, there are highs and lows, ups and downs, and right now, the Dallas Mavericks are down. Dallas(8-13) has now lost six straight after losing to the Suns(11-8) at home 109-108 on Monday night.

Phoenix defeated the Mavericks on Saturday night and swept the two-game set against Dallas.

Dallas led late but fell victim to Devin Booker’s greatness, who hit a three with 1.5 seconds left to give Phoenix the victory. Dallas had one last chance, but Luka Doncic missed a three at the buzzer.

The Mavericks are looking to get back on track, but according to their coach Rick Carlisle, the team is making progress. However, they have more work to do.

“We’re not back on track,” Carlisle said. “We’re still making mistakes, but we’re making progress with chemistry. We’re going to be positive. When we show stuff to guys, generally, my rule is we’re showing two-thirds positive and one-third correction. That’s the way I like to do it. I like to be more on the positive side. I’m not saying there’s any moral victories here or any of that nonsense —there’s not, there’s not. This is a binary thing; it’s wins and losses. We’ve got to do better.”

For the first time this season, Dallas had a full roster as Maxi Kleber returned after being out due to health and safety protocols, so that’s a positive for this team. Luka Doncic, who led the team with 25 points, believes Dallas has to stick together.

“It is tough, but there is always another game coming,” Doncic said. “We have to stay positive. There is where we can see who we are in these tough moments. We are staying together. I think in the last two games, we were way better than before, and this is where good teams come together.”

While Dallas has been hit hard by health and safety protocols, Kirstaps Porzingism, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds against the Suns on Tuesday night, believes Dallas can’t blame their struggles on that situation.

“We are not the only team that has had some guys out, so we can’t really blame it on that,” Porzingis said. “Of course, we would like to have everybody from the first game, but the situation is what it is. I can’t really put a number on it and say after this many games; we are going to be playing well; it is a day-to-day thing. We are looking forward to getting better, and once you get a win, it eases up, and things happen more naturally, so that is what we are looking forward to.”

Dallas has the talent and played well in these two games against the Suns, but they could not get it done down the stretch. After they travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Wednesday, Dallas has a seven-game homestand. While they won’t have fans, they won’t have to travel, so maybe this will be their chance to turn it around.

Notes:

• Booker hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to give Phoenix the win. Booker finished with 24 points and shot 4-8 from deep. Booker made his return on Monday after missing four games due to a left hamstring strain.

• Chris Paul led Phoenix with 34 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists on 14-20 shooting in 38 minutes tonight. His 34 points are the most by Paul in a regular season game since the 2017-18 season, when he scored 38 at New Orleans on 1/26/18. His 9 boards ties a season-high, marking the third time this season he has collected 9 rebounds.