The Golden State Warriors are set to become the first team after Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls to make six trips to the NBA Finals in eight years by closing out host Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night.
The Warriors run a familiar script – more depth of scoring and an impressive third quarter – the third win in a row in the best-of-seven set on Sunday night, leading the series 3-0 with a 109-100 win in Dallas.
Neither team was able to overcome the 3-0 deficit to win the NBA playoffs.
The Warriors dominated the NBA Finals with five trips in a row, winning three times, before missing the playoffs completely in each of the last two years, preceding the 2014-15 season by hiring Steve Kerr as coach.
A win on Tuesday will lock in the sixth appearance in eight seasons of the series, a series where the Warriors will have a home-court advantage over either the Eastern Conference finalists – the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.
The Warriors played great in the Kerr era to win the series – they won 20 of 22, only lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 final and to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 final – they were not necessarily great in the sweeping series when they put themselves in such a position.
Golden State went 6-4 in Game 4 while leading 3-0, with a defeat against the Denver Nuggets earlier this season.
Kerr thought the Warriors played a sloping Game 4 in Denver with a chance to sweep the first round, then saw Memphis Grizzlies beat their club in a possible close-out game in Game 5 in the Western semifinals. He hopes to be fascinated for the third time.
“It’s always a tough game, a close-out game, so we know it’s going to be tough,” he insisted Monday. “I hope we learn from the two games we lost and we have a focused effort (Tuesday).”
The Warriors outscored the Mavericks by 30-21 in the third quarter in Game 3. Golden State beat Dallas 89-58 in the third period of the series, shooting 53.0 percent in those 36 minutes and limiting the Mavericks to 36.8 percent.
Although neither team has dropped to 3-0 in the NBA, all three have made it to Game 7, most recently the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2003 first round against the Mavericks.
Winning or losing in Game 4, Dallas coach Jason Kidd insisted it was a start, not an end, for his young team, led by 23-year-old Luka Donsick.
“It’s just the beginning of our journey,” he claimed after the Game 3 loss. “It’s huge for our franchise. It’s great to go through this. You can call (warrior a) dynasty. They have three great players who will all be Hall of Famers. So we are learning a big lesson. This is not the end. It’s just the beginning. “
Donsick has scored 42 and 40 points in the last two matches. Only two players made it 40 or more three times in the conference finals: Hakim Olajuon in 1995 and LeBron James in both 2009 and 2018.
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