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Western Conference finals preview: A quick look at the Warriors-Mavericks matchup

Madeline Kenney, The Mercury News on

Published in Basketball

Key matchup: Luka Doncic vs. Andrew Wiggins

At 23, Doncic has emerged as one of the youngest and brightest talents in the league. He earned his third All-Star nod this season and has stepped up his game in the postseason.

Doncic took over the series against the Suns and led Dallas to its first Western Conference finals appearance since 2011 when the Mavericks went on to win it all. Entering Sunday’s game, Doncic averaged 31.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.9 assists in nine postseason games.

The Warriors were able to slow Nikola Jokic in the first round to advance, but Doncic might be their toughest defensive assignment yet. And it’ll likely be Andrew Wiggins who will take the majority of that burden.

Coming off his best performance of this postseason, Wiggins has shown a more consistent sense of urgency on defense during the playoffs. And Mike Brown, who was the Warriors acting head coach when Kerr was out with COVID-19, previously praised Wiggins for locking in on the defensive end.

“This morning during shootaround, I knew he’d have a big game because we changed our pick & roll coverage. And when we made the change, Wiggins asked, ‘Coach, do you want me to pick up Tyus Jones full-court?’” Brown said after Friday’s win. “I said, ‘Wiggs, you want to do that for 48 minutes?’ He said, ‘I’m locked in. I’ll do it for 48 minutes, you just tell me.’”

 

The Warriors will need more of that from Wiggins in this series.

Quick question: Are reinforcements coming for the Warriors?

The Mavericks aren’t as deep of a team, with coach Jason Kidd primarily sticking to an eight-man rotation, but the Warriors are shorthanded as they dealt with another round of injuries to key players.

Golden State had to close out the last series against the Grizzlies without three key role players — Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala — and it remains unclear as to whether any or all of them will make a return in the Western Conference finals.

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