Mavericks’ 3s fall (finally), they handle Warriors in Game 4 to extend series


Sometimes, the best adjustment in a playoff series is just to make your shots.

After shooting 32.6% on 3-pointers in the first three games of the Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks got red hot with their backs against the wall in Game 4: Dorian Finney-Smith was 4-of-7, Reggie Bullock was 6-of-10, Maxi Kleber hit 2-of-3, and as a team the Mavericks made 20 3-pointers and shot 46.5% beyond the arc.

For three games Luka Doncic had gotten into the paint and found open teammates for clean looks, only to watch their shots clank off the rim. Tuesday night, those same shots splashed through the net.

It wasn’t just the shooting that made it feel like an odd, one-off game. There was the mood in the building following the school shooting in Texas. There was a 16-minute rain delay (okay, a leak in the roof, but still) — and there was even Draymond Green leaving a free throw on the ledge.

Odd or not, the Dallas Mavericks held on in the end and kept their season alive for at least a couple more days, winning Game 4, 119-109.

That forces a Game 5 back in San Francisco on Thursday night. The Warriors lead the series 3-1.

Golden State has a long history of not winning their first attempt at a closeout game — remember how the Grizzlies blew them out in Game 5 last round? — but expect a more focused effort on Thursday.

The Maverics came out and played with pride. Luka Doncic scored 30 points, with 14 rebounds and nine assists.

Finney-Smith finished with 23 points and Bullock had 18 (all from made 3s).

Dallas was in control of this game, up by 29 entering the fourth quarter, but their shooters went a little cold — 1-of-7 from 3 — while the Warriors got hot, hitting 15-of-20 shots in the fourth. It made the game a little interesting in the end, with Golden State getting the lead down to eight with 3:23 left. But Doncic had a dunk off a Jalen Brunson assist and it righted the ship. The outcome was never really in doubt.

Game 5 will have a different feel. In part because the Chase Center will not spring a leak, leading to a break in play. At least, we hope.

Also, the Warriors have a long history of taking their foot off the gas in their first chance to close out a series. But if the Warriors win on Thursday, they don’t play again until the following Thursday (the Finals start June 2), and the old bodies in Golden State could use that break. The Mavericks will not go quietly but expect a much different Warriors team at home.

That game will not be an odd one-off.