The NBA story of Dorian Finney-Smith could not have been written without the help of Peter Patton.

You’re first question might be: who?

Patton is the Mavericks’ shooting coach, an under-the-radar job that many people don’t even know exists.

Rest assured, it’s not underappreciated by the Mavericks, and especially Finney-Smith.

Patton is like a good mechanic. He fixes things that are broken. Sometimes, it’s just some fine-tuning.

In Finney-Smith’s case, it was a complete rebuild of his shot.

The finished product looks awesome. Finney-Smith is coming off an 18-point effort in the Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. He made four of the five 3-pointers he hoisted as the Clips made the decision to take their chances with the 6-7 Finney-Smith shooting from beyond the arc.

Not bad for a guy who was never drafted and shot under 30 percent from 3-point land in his first two NBA seasons.

“Over a four- or five-year period, he’s one of the most improved players in the NBA,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s happened at a gradual rate, so he never gets mentioned for most-improved player in a given season. But he’s a fearless competitor. He has great belief in himself. His 3-point shooting tonight was absolutely key to the (Game 1) win.

“We ran an after-timeout play in the first half to get him a three, he got open and knocked it in. And that was at a point where they had made a run and that put it back to nine or something like that.”

Again, it says a lot about the amount of work Finney-Smith has put in.

“He knew that his shot needed to be overhauled,” Carlisle said. “The first year, he got a lot of valuable experience and then he really started to work on his shooting. Peter Patton, our shooting coach, has done a tremendous job not only on his mechanics, but also giving him an extreme amount of confidence. Look, this is what player development is all about. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

You don’t have to tell Finney-Smith about that.

He admitted that the massive alterations to his shot took a long time to pay off. At least, it seemed like a long time for an athlete that expects instant results.

“It was tough, man, especially when I didn’t get immediate results my first two years when I changed it,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s always tough when you make a change. If you don’t get the results, most guys tend to want to go back to their old shots.

“But I just stuck with it. And I make shots now.”

Yes he does. To the tune of 39.4 percent in the regular season.

Finney-Smith had to go through two seasons, one of which he was injured for much of, when he was disappointed with the decision to revamp his shot.

“I didn’t make shots like I wanted to, and it just carried on to summer league,” he said. “And I still didn’t make shots like I wanted to. Coach was telling me I’m shooting the hell out of the ball in practice, so I just need to shoot the same way in the game.”

Part of the change had to involve becoming confident in the shot.

Enter Patton, who joined the Mavericks not long after Finney-Smith was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016.

Patton was a college player at DePaul and was shooting coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves before coming to Dallas.

Allow Carlisle to explain what Patton is charged with doing.

“First of all, it took us a long time to find a guy who we felt was really right for the position,” Carlisle said. “Mike Finley had played with and against Pete a little in the Chicago area when they were growing up. And he (Patton) played at DePaul and was a 40-plus-percent 3-point shooter at DePaul.

“And I got a chance to talk to him three or four summers ago out in Vegas (at the summer league). I really liked him. We really connected in terms of our views of shooting.

“We approached it by working with each guy on an individual basis. And he not only works with guys on mechanics and techniques, but he also does a great job of instilling confidence and creating situations where, as they work with him, they can simulate game situations. He’s been a great asset to our organization.”

Look no further than the dividends the Mavericks are earning from Finney-Smith for proof.

“Doe has been hitting big shots all season long,” Kristaps Porzingis said. “He’s not afraid of taking whatever shot is given to him, late game. We know he can knock them down. He’s been great, playing very consistent, very selfless. And that’s the type of guy you want to have on your team when you’re trying to win.”

Three-mendous defense: The Mavericks limited the Clippers to 27.5 percent shooting from 3-point range in Game 1 (11-of-40).

In the three regular-season meetings, the Clippers shot 4-of-33, 14-of-32 and 9-of-32 from beyond the arc.

So only once in four games this season have the Clippers shot better than 40 percent from distance.

They averaged 41.2 percent in the regular season.

What have the Mavericks done to stifle the LA shooters?

“We did some good things rotating to shooters, but we also have areas where we need to do much better,” Carlisle said after Sunday’s practice. “We have great respect for their team, the way they shoot the ball and their two superstar players.

“When those guys create a problem, we get in a situation where we need to double-team, our rotations lightning quick and on point. Running the 3-point shooters off the line is only one of the multiple jobs that happens next. We got to then scramble and rebound and in virtually all of those situations, guys are not guarding the guy they initially were guarding in the possession. We got to keep working at winning those scrambles as best we can.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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