Western Conference Finals

Golden State 112 Dallas 87: Wonderful Wiggins Tames Doncic In Game 1

Golden State Warriors take Game 1 thanks to a 112-87 victory over Dallas Mavericks in San Francisco on Tuesday night

Steve Kerr (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)
Steve Kerr (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

Aggressive Wiggins

When Steve Kerr was asked about Kevon Looney’s success facing Luka Doncic at the start of Q4 by TNT, the Golden State head coach answered, “Are you asking me about Andrew Wiggins?”. It highlighted that Game 1 was the story of two Warriors players – Looney and Wiggins. The No22 was an All-Star starter back in February but the Canadian has struggled to replicate his early-season form since the All-Star weekend. There were some promising indicators in the latter games of the Memphis series that Wiggins was finding his shooting range and being more aggressive. The 27-year-old made an impressive start with 2/2 from the three-point line, a beautiful teardrop floater and 4/5 from the field overall in the first quarter of Game 1. His shooting was just part of the story as Wiggins worked on Doncic to somewhat blunt the mercurial No77. His assertive start laid the foundation for a strong Game 1 as Wiggins finished with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists. Steph Curry heaped praise on Wiggins for stepping up in his first taste of a Western Conference Final. “He’s just showing everybody what he’s capable of in terms of impacting winning,” Curry said of Wiggins, speaking to TNT at the end of the 112-87 win. “Last series he demonstrated he’s ready for this moment, and Game 1 he stepped up. I’m happy for him, because eight years in the league, this is his moment.” If the Warriors are to progress to their first NBA Finals since 2019, Wiggins will need to continue to be aggressive.

Warriors Make Q3 Splash

Steph Curry (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

Steph Curry (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

The Warriors led at the break mostly thanks to the shooting of Wiggins. Curry had contributed but he continued his recent struggles from the free-throw line, something which will surely be concerning Kerr and his coaching staff at this point. Curry, the second-best free-throw shooter in NBA regular season behind team-mate Jordan Poole, finished with 4 from 7. The No30 needs to get back to his 92% so the Warriors can convert more points from the free-throw line. Remarkably, Klay Thompson didn’t have a point in the first half. The Splash Brothers found their splash in the third quarter as the duo came to life and helped the Warriors to ease away from Dallas. Curry contributed 21 points with 33% shooting from three-pointer range, while Thompson hit the paint to put up 15 points. The Warriors earned a reputation for being the best third-quarter team in the NBA as they reached five successive finals between 2014 and 2019, but this hasn’t been as prominent in this new-look Golden State team. Dallas will be hoping Q3 Warriors aren’t back for good.

‘Q1 MVP’

Draymond Green (Photo: TNT / Screengrab)

Draymond Green (Photo: TNT / Screengrab)

For all the pre-game talk about Doncic, it wasn’t the Slovenian who was attracting MVP talk after the first quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Looney, underrated by the media but adored by Dub nation, made a dominant start in San Francisco and it prompted TNT commentator and former NBA head coach Steve Van Gundy to declare Looney his First Quarter MVP. The 26-year-old is a supreme defensive player, although his work often gets overshadowed by his abrasive and outspoken team-mate Draymond Green. Looney – and Wiggins – were tasked with guarding Doncic and the pair did a good job. The Warriors are one of the best rebounding teams in the league and Looney had five of their 51 rebounds. The most surprising aspect of Looney’s performance was his cool 10 points as the centre continues to show a growing confidence shooting the 2 in the post-season.

Bruising Night For Doncic

Luka Doncic (Photo: ChinaImages / IMAGINECHINA LIMITED / depositphotos.com)

Luka Doncic (Photo: ChinaImages / IMAGINECHINA LIMITED / depositphotos.com)

Wiggins left his mark on Doncic – literally. The 23-year-old suffered a scratch to the face in the first quarter when Wiggins attempted to swipe the ball but drew blood. While it was unintentional, it was symbolic of a bruising night for Doncic and Dallas. Typically, the No77 was unfazed: “It’s good. Makes me look tough.” The Dallas All-Star was visibly feeling some discomfort in his right shoulder at various stages of Game 1, but Doncic was quick to downplay the severity of the injury. “I felt a little pain when I shot [the basketball],” Doncic added. “But it’s OK. It’s fine. We’ll get some treatment, and it’ll be fine.” He shot 20 points in 35 minutes of action but the support cast that excelled in Game 7 in Phoenix didn’t come to his aide in San Francisco. The Mavericks’ three-point shooting deserted them as they finished with 11 of 48.

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