Best game I've ever been to. Best Warrior game in the last 13 years. The crowd was absolutely nuts tonight. We were just as loud, if not louder than the game on Friday. We had to sustain the energy level in the arena for 48 minutes, not the 36 in the blowout last game. I have to give props to all the Warriors fans at the arena, we rocked the house tonight and gave the team that extra energy it needed to win the game. If you don't believe me, just ask Baron:
The Warriors started the game really slow as they had trouble scoring. They had a few open looks, but the Mavs really seemed to step up their D in that 1st quarter. The quarter ended 27-21 Mavericks and the Warriors looked like they were in trouble. Josh Howard was going off as he had 14 in the quarter alone. The crowd stayed with it though and kept the noise coming along with the chants. The Warriors felt the energy and didn't lose another quarter to the Mavs all night.
A lot of Mavs fans and national media have been saying that the Warriors will be in trouble when the Mavs start to shoot well. You know what? They shot much better tonight (44%) and still were denied the win. Not many people want to give the Warriors defense credit for making it tough on the Mavs. The Warriors are definitely in their heads with the frenetic style of hoops they play. You just never know where a 2nd defender will be coming from. If you put the ball on the floor, be careful, because there are 4 other Warrior defenders looking to swipe it away from you.
This game was all about heart from the Warriors. They seemed to constantly be in a hole. After the first quarter, in the 2nd they were down 9, in the 3rd they were down 7, in the 4th they were down 5. But the team kept clawing its way back in. And finally, they broke through and kept a lead when it mattered most, the end of the game. The team showed a lot of hustle and heart tonight, it was a beautiful thing to see.
This was Baron's night. He was simply amazing tonight and dominated the game. He shot 12-17 from the field including a fantastic 3-4 from 3pt range to go with 8 boards and 6 assists. But he made some huge buckets to keep the Warriors from falling too far behind. First, at the end of the first half with 1.2 seconds on the clock and the Warriors down 3, he catches a half court heave on the inbounds pass and launches a 49 footer. It hits the glass, banks in and the Warriors leave the floor on a high while the Mavs leave the floor dejected. Lucky? Yes, but still a huge momentum shift. He wasn't done though. He then closed out the 3rd quarter with a 5-0 run by himself. With the Mavs up 77-72, Baron steps up and knocks in a 3 pointer to bring the Dubs within 2. He then manages to make a great hustle steal on an inbounds pass and flies in for a 2 handed dunk. Tie game. The Warriors once again have the momentum going into the fourth quarter. I just can't say enough about how great Baron was tonight. He did all the big things and all the little things. His defense on the perimeter was top notch. He would continually fight over Dirk Nowitzki screens and stay in front of either Jason Terry or Devin Harris. It prevented the Warriors from switching the smaller Baron on Dirk. Here's what Don Nelson had to say:
Mickael Pietrus came to play tonight! He was all over the floor scrapping for loose balls, harassing his man on D, and just flat out making big plays. He had a few memorable moments and he basically owned the 2nd quarter. The first big play came on a monstrous putback in the first half. The Warriors were down 7 and JRich just missed a shot. There were several Mavs in the paint, and in flies this blur collecting the missed shot and ramming through the rim. It was beautiful. The crowd had lost a little energy but with that putback, everyone jumped to their feet. Mickael Pietrus brought the crowd back in the game and we never went away again. His second big play of the 2nd quarter came on a Dallas fast break. Jason Terry was far ahead of Pietrus, but he sprinted back and was able to swat Terry's layup off the backboard. Stackhouse was there for the rebound but fumbled it away. He then went on to drain 2 three pointers to finish with 10 points in the pivotal 2nd quarter. The guy played an amazing game off the bench. How amazing? Let's ask Nellie:
JRich played a great game as well. He picked up the scoring as he dropped in 14 points in the 2nd half. He's always been an excellent scorer but his defense left something to be desired. Ever since the Warriors started this great run at the end of the season, Jason has been one of the best defenders on the team. In the 2nd half, he did a very nice job on defense. He even had one of the biggest plays of the night. With just 1:40 left, the Warriors had just taken the lead on an Andris Biedrins dunk and the Mavs called a 20 second timeout. Oftentimes coming out of a timeout, Avery draws up a play and the Mavs score. This time around JRich didn't let them. He made a brilliant steal on Jason Terry to disrupt their offense and he came down the court to get fouled. He made only 1 of 2, but that steal marked a big point in the game because it didn't let the Mavs tie the game. Instead, the Warriors kept the lead they had and never gave it back.
Then there was Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes. These guys have been solid throughout the series and tonight was no different. Jax played great defense on Dirk forcing him to do things he didn't want and making him take tough shots. His 19 points were great, but his ability to run the offense made him even more valuable tonight. He relived Baron of the PG duties so that he could concentrate more on scoring. Then there was Matt "Hustle" Barnes. The guy is scrappy and every team needs one of these guys. Also, he's going to get a reputation for hitting the dagger 3 if he keeps this up. With 45 seconds left in the game, Jason Terry knocked down a big 3 pointer to bring the Mavs within 3. The Warriors then ran the clock way down and you would expect Baron, JRich, or Jackson to take the big shot. Who was there? Barnes Baby! It was like Game 1 all over again. The ball rotated to him in the right corner with his two feet firmly planted behind the 3 point arc. Out ran Dirk, but it was too late. Barnes had already released the shot and it was on its way. Nothin' but net! He put the Warriors up by a much more comfortable 6 point lead with 23 seconds to go. Dagger. Cold blooded assassin.
So things weren't all so rosy and happy tonight though. There are a couple things that need to be addressed despite the W and the 3-1 series lead. Monta Ellis, where did you go? 0 points on 0-5 shooting? In order to win another game, we'll need some more out of you. Tonight, I didn't see the usual Monta. Tonight, he seemed passive and didn't want to take the ball to the rack. He can beat anyone off the dribble but didn't do it often and when he did, he couldn't finish. He's okay though, he'll be back for Game 5.
The guy we've all been waiting to break out this series struggled once again. Al Harrington. C'mon buddy, you can make those shots. You were a top 5 3pt% shooter during the regular season. The basket is still 10 feet high, nothing has changed. Get your game together man, we need you. You were our starting center when we made the miraculous run. It's great that we're up 3-1, but it would be even sweeter if you were able to partake in all the fun that's going on. It's probably killing you inside to struggle like you have but come out in Dallas like Warriors Nation knows you're capable of. Nellie has essentially shortened his bench to 7 guys now since Al has been struggling.
Lastly, what happened to the free throws tonight? That nearly cost the Warriors the game. Dubs shot just 23-37 from the line, good for 62%. The main culprits. Baron who was 6-12 and Andris Biedrins at 0-3. I understand that Biedrins struggled because he's not a good free throw shooter. But can someone tell him the bottom of the ball needs to be at least 10 feet above the floor? Seems like every free throw is short and clangs off the front iron. And as for Baron, I'm not sure what happened tonight. Probably just an off night.
A few more notes:
- The Warriors finally took care of the ball and ended the game with only 10 turnovers. The previous 3 games there would be at least 3 strips on the perimeter leading to a Dallas fast break. Tonight I don't remember anyone being stripped carelessly. Great to see the silly turnovers drop.
- Fast break points: Warriors 25, Mavericks 4. That's what I like to see. A 21 point advantage in fast break points means we're getting more and more easy buckets over the Mavs.
- This series is FAR from over. Even though the Warriors have won 6 of 7 this season against the Mavs, these next 3 are not gimmes. Game 5 in Dallas will be loud and a tough place to win. But the Warriors need to come out and play their hearts out. They can't be satisfied with coming back to the Oracle on Thursday thinking they can just win at home. They should treat the next game like a must win because a loss just gives the Mavs confidence. Remember, elimination games are the hardest games to win. I'm confident we can close out the series as long as we keep up the same level of energy.
Warriors vs Mavs Series