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NBA Picks: May 26

By Lior Lampert

Game 4 of this series was a mixed bag of sorts for both teams. The Mavericks held a lead at one point in this game as large as 29 points, while the Warriors went on a 32-13 run during the fourth quarter. Heading into Game 5, Mavericks head coach seems to feel better about his teams’ chances than most people. He stated that “the biggest compliment is that they have to play zone because they can’t guard us 1-on-1.” Does he have a point? Or will those words come back to haunt him now that the series has shifted back to Golden State’s home court?

Although it may not be entirely true, Coach Kidd has a point: The Mavericks seemed to have found a way to break the Warriors defensive strategy of using a 3-2 zone. The goal of the zone is to form a 3-man protective barrier between Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic and the rim. The only issue with this tactic is that he is taller and stronger than the average point guard, which allows him to break through the zone and find the open shooter if/once the defense decides to collapse on him. The aggression and dribble-penetration of Doncic and the Mavericks is a key part of why they were able to make 20 3-point shots in their Game 4 victory. 

The Warriors outscored the Mavericks by 19 points in the fourth quarter behind a very aggressive late-game push from their bench unit, yet they still lost by 10 points. Stephen Curry struggled with his shot in this one, making just seven of 16 shots to lead Golden State with 20 points. Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins shot nearly 50 percent from the field combined, but only had 25 points to show for it in Game 4. The Warriors are going to need those two to attempt more shots if they want to punch their ticket to the NBA finals. Will the Warriors stick with the zone defense or will they try to adjust? 

Through five career playoff elimination games, Luka Doncic averages 36.6PPG. That is a very tough number to ignore and it tells you that Doncic will not go down without a fight. The Mavs seem to have captured some momentum while also playing with nothing to lose, being that teams are a combined 0-146 in NBA playoff history when trailing a series 0-3. It felt as if the Warriors were aware of that statistic and took their foot off of the gas a little in Game 4 as a result. With that being said, I expect the Warriors sense of urgency and championship DNA to be enough to prevent this game from going back to Dallas for a Game 6. On the other hand, I also expect Luka Doncic to keep things interesting and give Warriors fans a little scare before they celebrate their sixth finals appearance in eight seasons.

My Pick: Dallas Mavericks +7 (-110 via DraftKings Sportsbook)

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