In many ways, the Mavericks are getting the best education you can get in basketball during these Western Conference finals.

Luka Dončić and Jalen Brunson, who figure to be the starting backcourt for years to come, are finding out from the Golden State Warriors how to handle business as the stakes get higher when the playoffs move along round by round.

“A lot of teams that have had success multiple years, they had to start somewhere,” coach Jason Kidd said Monday. “They didn’t just start winning championships. They had to go through the good and the bad, and learn from it. And that’s what we’re doing right now.

“We’re playing against a good team in Golden State. They’re well-coached. They’ve been here not just once but a lot of times. And they learned from their losses.”

The Warriors are one win away from their sixth trip to the NBA finals in the past eight seasons.

But that’s come after Steph Curry waited five years, missing the playoffs three times and failing to get past the second round two other years.

Then, he broke through for the first of three championships in 2015.

In that sense, Dončić and his teammates are a Warriors’ starter kit, to some degree.

They have overachieved this season. That’s not subject to debate. But they also know that, going forward, the expectations will rise. And so will the pressure on everybody in the organization to improve on this magical season that started with modest hopes and dreams but has produced a wonderful, momentum-building stretch for the franchise – and for Dončić.

This will lead to Kidd’s next assignment – managing expectations. But that’s a different story for a different time.

For now, he knows what Luka is learning.

“How hard it is,” Kidd said. “It’s not easy. There’s only four teams (still playing). He’s done a lot for this team from the beginning of the season to where we are today. And he still has a lot to do, a lot to learn. He’s only 23.

“What he’s done at a high level for this organization and the game of basketball is incredible. I think sometimes we take for granted that he’s just going to score 40 every night because some nights it is easy, or he makes it look easy.”

It has been anything but easy in the conference finals, even though Dončić has scored 82 points in the last two games (42 and 40).

In spite of that, the Mavericks are one loss away from facing an offseason when they will have to augment the roster if they hope to remain elite in the Western Conference.

And they are now cemented as contenders, although many thought the same of Atlanta last year when they made the Eastern Conference finals. And they were a first-round casualty this season.

“We don’t know what the white flag is,” Kidd said going into Game 4 Tuesday night. “The communication since training camp is this is the beginning of a journey. We’re all new, this is our first year together. Just understanding the experience that we’re learning from one another.

“They’ve worked extremely hard and they believe in one another and they trust one another.”

And this is a collection of talent that is new to the game. None of the players had been past the second round of the playoffs until this season.

“We don’t have anybody on this roster that’s played until May 24,” Kidd said. “This is a great time for us, a great journey for us to go through. You look at their roster, they (the Warriors) have a lot of guys who have played into June. I don’t think it (being down 3-0 is showing our true selves, but it’s showing who we can become.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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