Mavs Game: Film Study- 3 plays that stand out from Game 1 of Wolves-Mavs...

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Published Time: 25.05.2024 - 00:06:32 Modified Time: 25.05.2024 - 00:06:32

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, that mark was just a tick higher (53.7%), even though the Wolves had faced two teams — the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets — that ranked in the top 10 in field goal percentage in the paint (both at 59.1%) in the regular season. Mavs Game

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, that mark was just a tick higher (53.7%), even though the Wolves had faced two teams — the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets — that ranked in the top 10 in field goal percentage in the paint (both at 59.1%) in the regular season.

The Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, have been a jump-shooting team for the last several years, ranking 29th in the percentage of their shots that came in the paint (43%) this season. That rate increased after the deadline additions of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington.

But in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Mavs scored 62 points in the paint on 31-for-49 (63%) shooting, taking home-court advantage away from the Wolves with a 108-105 victory.

The 62 points in the paint were tied for the fourth most that the Wolves have allowed all season (94 total games). This is a great defensive team, but it has run into two elite offensive players in the conference finals.

As Game 2 nears (8:30 ET, TNT), here are three plays that stood out as the Mavs got into the paint in Game 1.

Transition is critical at this time of year when half-court defenses tighten up and take away primary options. And in a three-point win, the Mavs outscored the Wolves by eight points (29-21) in transition, according to Synergy tracking.

The Mavs’ 29 transition points were more than the Wolves allowed in Games 6 and 7 of the conference semifinals combined (24). Twelve of the 29 came from Kyrie Irving, who almost singlehandedly kept the Mavs in the game in the first half.

In Irving’s first full season in Dallas, the Mavs saw the league’s second-biggest jump in transition points per game, going from 17.7 (29th) in 2022-23 to 23.6 (eighth) in ’23-24. He gave them some juice in the open court on Wednesday …

Most of those transition buckets were Irving doing all the work, but Luka Doncic (fifth in pass-ahead passes per game in the playoffs) also hit Irving with an incredible lead pass for a layup late in the second quarter.

Throughout 82 regular-season games against 29 different opponents, the best foundation for a top-10 defense is having Gobert in drop coverage. That’s what the Wolves employed for most of Game 1. According to Second Spectrum tracking, Gobert was the screener’s defender for 37 ball screens on Wednesday, and he played “soft” on 26 of the 37.

That “soft” coverage didn’t work well for the Wolves, with Dallas scoring 1.10 points per chance, up from 0.95 points per chance when Gobert was in drop coverage through the first two rounds.

The drop coverage was fine in the first half. But early in the third quarter, Gafford was able to get behind Gobert for a couple of lob dunks.

And early in the fourth, Doncic got going.

Jaden McDaniels — Doncic’s primary defender — is long, rangy and active. But when Doncic came off those ball screens, he kept the trailing McDaniels on his hip. With Gobert focused on preventing the lob, Doncic found space to get to his step-back jumper …

The Wolves continued to defend those pick-and-rolls with just two defenders. The other three would shade toward the paint, but wouldn’t commit to help off the Mavs’ shooters.

The Wolves employed a different scheme when Karl-Anthony Towns was the screener’s defender or when a screen was set along the sideline. In those cases, they blitzed the ball-handler, forcing the ball out of his hands.

Early in the third quarter, Gobert blitzed a sideline screen, Anthony Edwards rotated to Daniel Gafford and stole the ball, leading to a transition bucket for McDaniels. Late in the third, Gobert was up at the level of the screen and was able to stay with Doncic’s drive, forcing another turnover.

When Towns blitzed, the result was several open 3-point attempts for Washington (the screener), because the Wolves (again) wouldn’t rotate from one of the other three Mavs on the floor.

Washington had shot 33-for-91 (41%) from 3-point range through the first two rounds of the playoffs but was just 2-for-8 on Wednesday. So that strategy worked according to the math (0.75 points per shot).

Late in the fourth quarter, Towns again blitzed Doncic. Washington again got the ball but chose not to shoot the open 3. Instead, he tried to attack the seam, but Towns was able to back in front of the drive and take the ball away.

Two possessions later, Gobert was up at the level of the screen, forcing the ball out of Doncic’s hands. Dereck Lively II was open on the roll, but Mike Conley made a late rotation and forced a traveling violation …

On the next Mavs’ possession, Doncic waived Lively off, clearly not wanting to see a second defender or to give up the ball. Instead, he isolated against McDaniels and drained another step-back jumper to put the Mavs up four with 49 seconds left.