TV: 9 pm ET, TNT
BetMGM Line: Warriors -6.5
The Dallas Mavericks avoided a sweep with a win in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night in a game that was overshadowed by the horrific mass shooting at a Texas elementary school earlier that day.
The Golden State Warriors still hold a 3-1 series lead as things shift back to San Francisco for Game 5. A win on Thursday would secure a trip to the Warriors’ sixth NBA Finals in eight years and give them a full week of rest before the championship round starts.
Here’s everything you need to know for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals:
1. Doncic: ‘I still believe we can win’
No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, something Luka Doncic is very aware of.
While the odds are stacked against them, he’s not giving up.
“I mean, I still believe we can win, you know?” Doncic said after Game 4, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “Swept or not swept, in the end if you lose, you lose. Don’t matter how many we win. We have to go game by game. We’re going to believe until the end.”
In order to do that, the Mavericks can’t let up — something they nearly did in Game 4. After building a 29-point lead in the second half, the Warriors cut it to single digits in the fourth quarter with their starters on the bench.
Still, Doncic got help — finally — in the win to go with his near-triple-double. Dorian Finney-Smith dropped 23 points and shot 9-of-13 from the field, and Reggie Bullock made six 3-pointers. The Mavericks shot 20-of-43 from behind the arc, a huge improvement after shooting less than 29% from that range in Game 3.
If they can pull that off again in Game 5, and not let the Warriors sneak back into it late, there’s no reason the series can’t head back to Dallas on Saturday.
2. Warriors on cusp of Finals berth
Though the Warriors had held a nine-game win streak in Western Conference finals games, Tuesday’s result wasn’t surprising to anyone, even Stephen Curry.
Not only did he expect Dallas to come out firing, but the same thing happened to the Warriors in their previous series with the Memphis Grizzlies — who beat them by 39 when the Warriors held a 3-1 series lead.
“It was almost like an ego win [for Dallas]. You come out and really have nothing to lose. So that confidence started early,” Curry said, via The Associated Press. “And we really didn’t do nothing to slow it down, and then that’s when the avalanche starts. You tip your hat to them.”
The Warriors are still in full control of the series. They’ve dominated Dallas nearly the entire Western Conference finals and have done a great job shutting down nearly everyone other than Doncic, and have done so even with their second group on the floor.
“It’s kind of crazy to think we had an opportunity or even think we had a little bit of life, and it’s credit to those five guys out there that made that possible,” Curry said of their late run, via 95.7 The Game.
So either way, starters or otherwise, the Warriors should feel good ahead of Thursday night.
3: There (probably) won’t be a rain delay this time
With the series back in San Francisco and the Chase Center, there shouldn’t be another rain delay in Game 5.
Just as the teams were coming back after halftime Tuesday night, rain started leaking down from the roof and onto the court in Dallas, which had heavy storms rolling through the area. That stopped playing for about 15 minutes while arena staff tried to plug the leak on the roof and clean it up with towels as players and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban just watched helplessly.
It’s not completely unheard of, but a rain delay isn’t something seen very often in the NBA.
While the American Airlines Center is more than two decades old, the Chase Center opened in 2019. It is likely in a much better position to fend off any leaks — not that there’s any rain in the forecast for Thursday anyways.