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Not in Phoenix anymore: Doncic, Mavericks go cold as Curry, Warriors claim Game 1 of Western Conference Finals

The Mavericks were doomed from the start -- and things didn't get much better from there either, as the team shot a meager 37 percent from the field.
Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots between Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) and guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference finals in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Dallas Mavericks were never going to beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 1.

If that triggers you, I apologize.

Actually, I don't. I'm not sorry. It was brutally obvious from the moment the Mavs left the desert for northern California.

The NBA Gods were bound to do something to bring the Mavs back down to earth for the start of the Western Conference Finals.

The law of regression is a key component of sports. It's why we put stock in averages -- not outliers.

The Mavs pummeling the top-seed Phoenix Suns by 33 points in Game 7 of the second round -- in a building the Suns lost only 10 times in since October -- was an outlier.

Don't get it twisted: The Mavericks absolutely deserve to be one of the final four teams vying for the championship. They've earned their place and that respect. They embarrassed the defending conference champions en route to their first WCF series since 2011.

Game 7 of Round 2 was the franchise's biggest win in 11 years. It showed what the Mavericks are capable of, by totally annihilating the league's only 60-win team on its own floor.

But the Mavericks are also capable of laying an egg.

We saw it in Games 1 and 2 (and the third-quarter of Game 5) in their series with the Suns. We saw it again in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as the Warriors stymied the Mavericks, 112-87, to take a 1-0 series lead.

Led by Stephen Curry's game-high 21 points, the Warriors had seven players score in double-figures.

As a team, Golden State shot 56% from the field. Dallas shot 37%.

But the Mavs will not win this series -- by trying to out-Warriors the Warriors.

The Mavericks poor shooting performance was a composite of missed open shots, strong defense from the plethora of Warriors wing defenders -- and that aforementioned law of regression.

Luka Doncic (20 points, 6-for-18 FG) struggled with his shot and turned the ball over seven times. He had seven turnovers in the Mavs' 20-point Game 2 loss in Phoenix, too.

There's a reason the Mavericks were the fourth seed in the West. There's a reason they don't have home court advantage in the WCF against the Warriors.

They did not show enough high-end consistency over the course of the regular season to earn a higher seed.

Nothing has changed in the postseason. The Mavs either dominate and win, or they get dominated and lose. 

There has been very little middle-ground thus far.

The Mavericks are not Icarus.

They flew close to the Suns -- and won.

Now they have to swim upstream against the Splash Bros.

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