Western Conference Finals

Golden State 126 Dallas 117: ‘MVP’ Warrior Looney Thwarts The Mavs

Golden State Warriors seize a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals thanks to 126-117 win over the Dallas Mavericks

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

‘Game Of His Life’

“Game 2 MVP?” That’s the question NBA legend Reggie Miller was asking his co-commentator Steve van Gundy as Kevon Looney recorded a career-high 21 points on Friday night. The response: “game of his life”. For those who have been following Looney’s career at Golden State, the 26-year-old’s work ethic and honest application has never been questioned. But surely even Steve Kerr didn’t think Looney could have such an influence on a Playoff game on the front board as the no5 sparked Golden State’s second-half resurgence. He reached a career high 21 points and 10 rebounds with more than 7 minutes to go in Game 2, prompting Kerr to give Looney a heartfelt hug at the timeout after he even sunk a free throw to finish with personal-best tally. “It’s just fun having a good night like that,” Looney said after Golden State’s 126-117 win. “Leading a comeback like that is something you dream about as a kid. I got MVP chants so that was pretty cool. I’m going to cherish that one, I might not get another one so I’m going to have to cherish that one.”

Donic’s 42 Points Still Not Enough

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

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

Sporting his scar from a scratch to the face in Game 1, Luka Doncic set the tone early in the first quarter with 18 points. To put that haul in context, the MVP contender had 20 in Game 1. Golden State couldn’t cope with the irrepressible Slovenian and it was all very one-sided. The supporting cast decided to turn up on Friday night as Doncic was even afforded a 20-minute rest in the second quarter with the bench players keeping their foot on the Warriors’ neck. In typical Doncic fashion, the 23-year-old silenced the home crowd at the end of the first half with a long distance three to end a Warriors run with the No3 seeds threatening to close the lead to less than 10 points. But the Warriors came storming back in the second half as Doncic and his Mavs team-mates attempted to take on Looney, a strategy that failed in Game 1 and ultimately failed in Game 2, too. Doncic’s 42 points weren’t sufficient to inspire the Mavs past the Warriors ahead of their return to Dallas on Sunday night.

Wiggins Continues To Be Aggressive

While another stellar performance was overshadowed by “MVP” Looney, Wiggins was aggressive once again to prove a thorn in the side of Dallas. The former No1 draft pick was one of the talking points from Game 1 as the No22 looked to take on Doncic in the paint while thwarting the Slovenian at the other end. It worked. He continued to be aggressive in Game 2 to suggest that this is a new-look Wiggins. The 27-year-old made a key three-point shot to move the Warriors to within two points of Dallas with 47 seconds to play at the end of Q3. There is still room from improvement for Wiggins, especially from the free-throw line after missing three of four, and he will need to maintain his new approach to Playoff basketball when the Warriors travel to the cauldron that will be the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Q3 Warriors

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

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

It was one of the talking points from Game 1 but the Warriors surged back into Game 2 thanks to an outstanding third quarter. Down 19, Golden State were struggling to make a dent into the Mavericks’ commanding lead. Enter Q3 Warriors. The four-time NBA champions went on a 38-18 run in third quarter and start of the fourth quarter to take their first lead of the game. If you were to take out Q3 in Game 1 and Game 2 then Dallas would be 2-0 up in this series. In Texas, the Warriors may find it more challenging to mount a stunning comeback in front of a rambunctious Dallas arena.

Sharp Shooting

The Dallas Mavericks have lived and died by their three-point shooting in the post-season so far. Their shooting from distance is what ultimately decided their series against the no1 seeds, Phoenix Suns. Dallas didn’t find their range in Game 1 and it allowed the Warriors to ease to a commanding half. However, the Mavs made 15 of their 27 attempted three-point shots in the first half alone to comfortably surpass their 11 successful three-point shots in the whole of Game 1. While Dallas were clinical from three-point range in the first half on Friday night, they tailed off somewhat in the second 24-minute period. The Mavs finished with 21-45 from three-point distance so hit just six of 18 in Q3 and Q4. Doncic will inevitably put up big numbers but the question for Dallas is whether Doncic’s supporting cast can maintain a high three-point shooting percentage throughout this series?

Draymond Green (Photo: TNT / Screengrab)

Draymond Green (Photo: TNT / Screengrab)

Other notes:

• Otto Porter Jr gets an honorable mention with a valuable contribution in Q4.

• Curry’s shooting has been a little hit and miss by his high standards in 2022 but the No30 finished with 32 points and encouragingly 100% from the free-throw line.

• The Dallas bench continued to encroach on the court and it has been an issue in the post-season with two fines already. It appeared to play a part in Game 2 when Curry thought he was passing to a team-mate but it was instead a Dallas player.

• Davis Bertans riled up the Warriors with an incident involving Damion Lee in Q2 and the Warriors took issue with Draymond Green and Jordan Poole particularly irate with the Frenchman. This could be a simmering battle.

• Green walked the tightrope after an early technical before he fouled out towards the end of Q4. With Looney in supreme form, Green’s absence wasn’t missed but after his flagrant foul 2 against Memphis, he needs to be cautious as another flagrant foul 2 would result in suspension.

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