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Game 1 to set the tone for Mavericks in quest to reach NBA Finals

The Dallas Mavericks are back in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 and the roadblock to the Finals is this era’s dynasty franchise.

DALLAS — As the Dallas Mavericks prepare for tip-off in San Francisco for the Western Conference Finals, their matchup against the 4th seeded Golden State Warriors brings a myriad of storylines that could fill even the most unbelievable TV drama.

With their destruction of the Phoenix Suns as a team, fanbase, and online entity, the Mavericks arrive in the Conference championship round with their confidence riding high and their roster jelling on all fronts. The defensive efforts have been just as responsible for their current position as their young All-World playmaker.

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Standing between Dallas and the NBA Finals is perennial contender Golden State. After a stretch of unfortunate injuries, the Splash Brothers are back together, adding several lottery pick talents for their trouble while their star backcourt was out of commission. The Warriors lineup is finally whole, including Draymond Green, who also missed significant time.

After a second round matchup against a heavy mid-range shooting team, the Mavs’ perimeter defense will once again be tested by heavy volume threes. Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith will have a mountain of a task in defending against the championship backcourt, with Green looking to disrupt their defensive fronts as he aims to set screens for Stephen Curry to operate.

Curry (26.9 PPG) and Klay Thompson (20.4 PPG) continue to be the offensive focal points, but Splash baby brother Jordan Poole will deserve attention from Bullock/Finney-Smith in his own right. The second-year Michigan shooting guard is taking the most three-point attempts on the team outside of Curry and Thompson and hitting on a 40% clip from deep in the playoffs to date.

On the other side of the court, the Warrior defense will be dealing with what now looks to be the three-headed guard attack of Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and a resurrected Spencer Dinwiddie.

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Doncic continues to defy expectations for where a 23-year-old superstar’s ceiling is supposed to end ( *Lil Wayne voice* no ceilings).

The scary part for Golden State may be that as good as Doncic has looked in the first two rounds, he has been in a small shooting slump, only draining 33% from three against Phoenix after being closer to his career playoff average of 37% against Utah in the first round.

The walking triple-double amassed an average of 32.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists against the Suns and will be looking to continue the upward trend as the lights get brighter. Brunson (22 PPG playoff average) meanwhile will be trying to attack the paint inside relentlessly, and the Mavs will hope that the progress Dinwiddie showed toward the end of the series in Phoenix continues to give them a third look to rival the Warriors.

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The Mavericks and Warriors matchup also fuels the law of the jungle with the grizzled veteran taking on the challenge from the young upstart for territorial control. The babyface Steph Curry is now 33 years old and in his thirteenth season, with 123 playoff games and three championships on those surgically repaired ankles.

Doncic continues to prove doubters wrong and actually seems to relish in it, turning up his game on the slightest hint of disrespect. The scary thing for Golden State is that Doncic has yet to look overmatched in any playoff series to date.

We have never seen what Western Conference Finals Doncic looks like before and neither have the Warriors. Tonight, the challenge begins.

Do you see the Mavericks grabbing Game 1 from the Warriors? Share your predictions with Irvin on Twitter @Twittirv.

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