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Back to the future: Warriors vs. Mavs keys revisited

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How did Golden State do with their keys to victory against Dallas?

Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors crushed the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, winning 147-116 in one of their best performances of the year.

Smart money would say that they hit on their pregame keys to victory en route to the 31-point win, but let’s find out if that’s true.

Nellie ball

The key: Make being the smaller team an advantage.

The outcome: Well, well, well. That worked out nicely.

The Warriors entered the game not having a healthy player who was taller than Dallas’ starting point guard. And it played to their favor. They got out and ran, with 24 fast break points to just 4 from the Mavs.

But they also utilized their smaller size in the halfcourt, by drawing Dallas’ bigger, slower defenders away from the hoop, and then attacking. As a result, the Dubs outscored the Mavs 54-36 in the paint.

Playing that small may not be sustainable long term, but it was the catalyst behind arguably the best performance of the season.

Grading the key: 10 out of 10.

MVP face off

The key: Steph Curry beat Luka Dončić in the MVP contender battle.

The outcome: Let’s handle this one in the simplest fashion and just look at the stats:

Curry: 28 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 turnovers, 9-for-17 shooting, +19
Dončić: 27 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 turnovers, 8-for-20 shooting, -28

The young star was good — perhaps the only player on Dallas who can boast that. But the veteran star was better.

Grading the key: 8 out of 10.

Grab some boards

The key: Survive on the glass despite not having any healthy centers.

The outcome: The Warriors surprisingly won the rebounding battle, 45-42.

That’s a little bit misleading, because the Warriors success on the rebounding end came as a result of their success on offense and defense. The Warriors had myriad opportunities for defensive rebounds and limited opportunities for offensive ones, and that’s the key to having strong rebounding numbers (and, you know ... winning).

The Dubs missed just 37 shots on the night, compared to 54 for Dallas, so it’s not shocking that the rebounding numbers look the way that they do. If we’re being honest, Dallas was the better rebounding team, but the Warriors were far more competitive on that end than they had any business being, given their size. Oftentimes three or four Dubs would crash the glass and just fluster the Mavs. It was a team-wide performance.

Grading the key: 7.5 out of 10.

Bench threes

The key: At least 5 three-pointers from the bench wings.

The outcome: Little did I know that “bench wings” would be the entire bench, as Eric Paschall was unable to play.

The four healthy bench players — Kent Bazemore, Damion Lee, Mychal Mulder, and Brad Wanamaker — all played well, and they hit this key pretty strongly. Wanamaker didn’t attempt a triple, but the other three combined to shoot 8-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Shooting off the bench makes the Warriors substantially better.

Grading the key: 9 out of 10.

Turns out I should have made “Kelly Oubre Jr. play like a superstar” a key, but oh well. Great win.