DALLAS – Mavericks star Luka Doncic doesn’t necessarily see any honor in avoiding being swept up in the Western Conference Finals. He’s still focused on defeating the Golden State Warriors in the series, no matter the long odds.
The Mavs are trying to become the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff game, a feat that 146 others have failed to achieve. Dallas took a step in that direction with a 119-109 victory in Game Four on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.
“I mean, I still think we can win, you know,” Doncic said. “You swept or not, in the end, if you lose, you lose. It doesn’t matter how much we win. We have to play game by game. We will believe until the end.”
Dallas already has one shock run in this post-season, racking up a 2-0 and 3-2 deficit to seal the No. 1 overall seeded Phoenix Suns in the conference semifinals. The Mavs finished the streak by steering the Suns by 33 points, the biggest road team win in a Game 7 since 1948.
Doncic, the 23-year-old goalkeeper who was named to the All-NBA First Team for the third consecutive season ahead of Thursday’s game, added to his roster of impressive performances in potential elimination matches with 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in the exit against the Warriors.
According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, he joined Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor as the only player in NBA history to have scored at least 30 points in each of his first five potential playoffs.
“I just want to win the match and that’s it,” Doncic said. “We have more to do, you know. That’s nothing. We have three more things.”
The Movs took a 29-point lead after three quarters in large part by tearing up the Warriors, which Dallas coach Jason Kidd called “a compliment…because they can’t guard us one-on-one.”
Dallas was 19th out of 36 from the 3-point range to three-quarters, at which point Golden State coach Steve Kerr started off.
“We weren’t quite so defensive tonight,” Kerr said, and his team failed in their first closing attempt in all three of the post-season series. “We weren’t smart. I think we let them in and once a team like this gets into a 3-point groove, it’s hard to get them out of it.”
But the match wasn’t without some drama, and not just a leak in the roof allowing a 16-minute rain delay after halftime. The Warriors reserve cut the Mavs advance to number one with 3:23 remaining, prompting Kerr to bring freshmen Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins back onto the field after the Dallas timeout.
Doncic was overwhelmed by a feed from Jalen Bronson on the next possession, back in interest to 10, and the Warriors never came close.
“There is no panic,” Kidd said. “We had pretty big progress. They had to make a decision. They put their set back in again and they couldn’t get it done.”
Now, the series will return to San Francisco for Game Five on Thursday.
“Everyone in the locker room feels like we’ve got more basketball to play with,” said Maves forward Dorian Vinnie Smith, who scored 23 points on a 9-13 shot. “We just wanted to win by any means necessary.”