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Analysis: Draymond Green energizes the Warriors defense, helping them defeat the Mavericks 121-103

Not even a sloppy first quarter can stop the Warriors, snapping their two-game losing streak against the Harrison Barnes-less Mavericks.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

After that rough, disappointing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors looked to get back on track with a win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Though the game got off to a rocky start, eventually the Warriors took control on their way to an 18-point victory over the visiting Mavericks on Thursday night.

Turnovers and a first-quarter deficit, naturally

A couple of trends unfortunately continued on Thursday night—turnovers and first-quarter deficits. The Warriors played yet another turnover-happy game, giving the ball up 16 times, which resulted in 20 points for the Mavericks. Though a few turnovers are to be expected with a team that plays the way the Warriors do, some of these were just silly and careless, making them all the more head scratching.

Five of the Warriors 16 turnovers came in the first quarter as Dennis Smith Jr. (who scored 10 of his 22 points in the quarter) and Wesley Matthews (who scored 8 of his 17 points in the first) took advantage of those extra possessions.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors
Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. scored a team-high 22 points but it wasn’t enough to give the Mavericks a victory over the Warriors
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors also continued their trend of getting off to slow starts. Against a team with one of the worst records in the league and missing perhaps their best player (Harrison Barnes), the Warriors were trailing at the end of the first quarter by 10 points.

Though the Warriors didn’t take over the game until the late third quarter, they by and large outplayed the Mavericks save for that awful first period. The Warriors outscored the Mavericks 98-70 over those final three quarters, with the game remaining close primarily because the Warriors had fallen into that early double-digit deficit.

Even though the Warriors can overcome these holes they create for themselves, it obviously doesn’t make things easy and prevents us from properly appreciated their good play during the rest of the game.

Veterans to the rescue

A big part of why the Warriors were able to come back in the second quarter and pull away in the fourth quarter was the impressive play of their second unit. Three players particularly stood out on that second unit— David West, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston.

In just 16 minutes of action, West scored 10 points while handing out 7 assists and grabbing 7 rebounds, pretty remarkable totals given the limited amount of playing time. The veteran big man’s scoring was important in that second quarter that saw the Warriors erase the ten-point lead the Mavericks held after the end of the first.

Iguodala didn’t have quite the impressive stat line that West had, but his influence was certainly felt in Thursday night’s game. Iguodala was a +26, the highest +/- for any Warriors player. While +/- is an imperfect stat it reflects how Iguodala makes contributions that don’t show up in the traditional box score, speaking to how good things happen when he’s on the court.

Of the five points Iguodala scored, three came on this shot that helped to put the nail in the Mavericks’ coffin.

Taking advantage of smaller Mavericks guards like J.J. Barea and Yogi Ferrell, Livingston also played well on Thursday night, scoring six points while finishing with a +18. Livingston’s defense was also good, catching the eye of those watching closely and helping get the Warriors back on track in the second quarter.

Though the All-Stars did shine, it was the play of these three veterans that allowed the Warriors to erase that early deficit and win this game.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors
Shaun Livingston took advantage of the shorter Mavericks guards on Thursday night.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Draymond provides the spark that leads the Warriors to victory

While he didn’t dominate offensively like Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, who scored 24 and 20 points respectively, Draymond Green was perhaps the greatest factor in the Warriors winning this game. Green finished with 12 points against the Mavericks with two coming here on this touchdown pass from Curry.

The Mavericks’ gameplan was to force the ball away from Durant, Curry, and Klay Thompson and instead force Green to take (and make) shots. Green took 17 shots against the Mavericks, which tied his season high for most field goal attempts in a game.

While Green only made four of those shots, the combination of him playing within the offense and then working to get his teammates the ball kept that low field-goal percentage from really hurting the Warriors in this game.

Green also pulled down ten rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass. Green’s energy and determination showed on this play, in which he helps keep the play alive through his rebounding and thus allowing Zaza Pachulia to score with the putback.

Rounding out his night, Green finished with 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, a quintessential performance for him.

Unfortunately, Green also picked up another technical foul, his fourteenth of the season and just two away from a one-game suspension.

But outside of the technical (which seemed to fire up and focus the Warriors, so it might not have been the worst thing), it was a positive night for the Warriors’ forward.

Warriors finally play good defense

One area in which Green had an out-sized impact was on the defensive side of the ball. After that first half that saw the Mavericks score easily and answer every Warriors’ run with one of their own, the Warriors defensive intensity increased in the second as they shut down the Mavericks offense.

After the low energy of the first quarter that led to the ten-point deficit, the Warriors looked like the tough defensive team we know they can be for the rest of the game. Green and Durant both looked as focused on defense as they have in quite a while. But it wasn’t just the starters as both Patrick McCaw and Kevon Looney came off of the bench to give some good defensive effort in their limited minutes.

Granted, this was against a team with a less-than-stellar offensive and missing important players, but it was still a very positive sign to see the Warriors look focused on the defensive end.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors
The Warriors defense, led by Draymond Green, looked much more focused and energized against the Mavericks.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Big third quarters for Steph and KD

I mentioned their point totals earlier, but I wanted to highlight a couple of nice plays made by Curry and Durant . Both played their best basketball of the game in the third quarter, which saw the Warriors go up by eight points as they started to pull away for the win. Curry scored eight points in the third quarter, including three points the old fashioned way on this layup.

Durant, meanwhile, scored 13 points in the third quarter, including this three-pointer with time running out that pushed the Warriors lead to eight.

The two also teamed up for this nice sequence that saw each player assisting on the other’s basket.

Happy birth-Klay!

Celebrating his 28th birthday on Thursday night, Thompson scored 18 points, including six via the three-point shot.

Though it wasn’t as flashy a performance as the ones delivered by Durant and Curry, Thompson made his shots and played good defense in the Warriors’ victory.

Thompson also had a nifty assist in the second quarter, dishing the ball to Iguodala in the lane for the dunk.

In addition to the win, Thompson also received another nice treat for his birthday—a cake that looked like his beloved dog, Rocco.

It was a good birthday for Thompson, one punctuated with the best gift he could receive—a Warriors victory.


Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Mavericks?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Jim Barnett’s trash talk
    (38 votes)
  • 14%
    Draymond Green science tutorial
    (38 votes)
  • 4%
    Kevin Durant’s efficient all round game
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    Steph Curry climbing the charts
    (17 votes)
  • 17%
    Klay Thompson’s birthday cake
    (46 votes)
  • 23%
    David West’s continued excellence
    (59 votes)
  • 9%
    Andre Iguodala hitting a three
    (25 votes)
  • 7%
    The Warriors 37 assists
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    The mighty borough of Camden
    (2 votes)
256 votes total Vote Now

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