SAN FRANCISCO ( Associated Press) — The Golden State Warriors are in familiar territory after failing to wrap up their road series. They hope to also have a familiar result when they return home.
For the third consecutive series, the Warriors lost on the road in a first opportunity to advance to the next phase. But they could reach the NBA Finals for the sixth time in the last eight years if they resolve the series against the Dallas Mavericks this Thursday, in the fifth game of the Western Conference final, now at home.
The Warriors bounced back from those slips in the first two rounds against Denver and Memphis and hope to repeat the feat after losing 119-109 to Dallas on Tuesday.
“We learned a good lesson,” acknowledged Stephen Curry. “I congratulate them because they made a lot of shots. We had some breaks on our side, we made it easy for them and they made us pay.”
The Mavericks have avoided elimination three times this season. They won Game 6 and Game 7 against Phoenix in the second round and again survived against the Warriors in Game 4.
None of these meetings has been close. Dallas outscored its rivals by 70 points in those three wins.
Luka Doncic has led the way with 98 points and 35 rebounds in the three wins, but said the key has been aggressiveness on offense and commitment on defense.
“We have to believe,” Doncic said. “I think our defense was much better now and we attacked in the paint. Those two things are key and that is what we have to bring to San Francisco.”
The Warriors rallied in the fourth quarter thanks to a young lineup that featured 22-year-old Jordan Poole and 19-year-old rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. The trio, along with Nemanja Bjelica and Damion Lee, cut the deficit from 29 to eight points in the first 8:38 of the fourth quarter before Curry and the rest of the starters returned.
No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series in NBA history, and even going back to Dallas for Game 6 would be weird. Of the previous 146 times a team has gone up 3-0, they’ve gone on to sweep the series in 90, and win through five games in 42.
If they win Thursday, the Mavs would become the 12th team to force a Game 6. Only three teams have reached that seventh game before losing.