SAN FRANCISCO – They call this the Bay Area.
As opposed to the Nay Area, which might be what they start calling the paint during Mavericks’ games.
They couldn’t attack it on offense Friday night, and they couldn’t defend it on defense.
In a game 2 that was there for the taking for the longest time, the Mavericks got a little too comfortable with their 3-point shooting and, while it was good for much of the night, they forgot about what’s gotten them this far.
They didn’t attack the paint.
And even with their shooting improved over Game 1, their 30 points in the paint were a ridiculously low total.
Especially compared to Golden State’s 62.
That was the essence of a 126-117 loss to the Warriors at Chase Center that left the Mavericks down 2-0 in the Western Conference finals. They’ll try to shake off this body blow on Sunday in Game 3 at American Airlines Center.
“They got two of the best 3-point shooters in the world and they still attacked the paint,” Luka Dončić said. “Bad defense. That’s it.”
The Mavericks shot the ball well, for sure. But the Warriors shot it better, particularly after halftime when they erased what was a 19-point second quarter lead.
The Warriors shot 56 percent for the game and 50 percent from 3-point range. But in the second half, when they outscored the Mavericks 68-45, they hit 61 percent of their shots and the Mavericks could not keep pace.
“They attacked the paint,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ve got to protect the rim. That’s one of the things we have to do better.”
The Mavericks shot 2-of-13 from 3-point range in the third quarter, when they scored just 13 points. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Warriors lived in the paint and the Mavericks
“We know how good they are as a third-quarter team,” said Reggie Bullock. “It was just something that slipped away from us.”
Said Jalen Brunson: “They were playing Warrior basketball. They were making us move. They had a great run in the third quarter – great third-quarter team. They made a run, and we just let the run go on too long.”
Rebounding woes: The constant that usually means the Mavericks are winning games is their rebounding.
Not necessarily winning the rebounding battle. But at least being competitive on the boards.
It happened again on Friday in Game 3 as they were out-rebounded 43-30.
Jason Kidd had a reasonable explanation for the rebounding problems that often are tied in with how competitive the Mavericks have been in games.
“Small, small-ball,” Kidd said. “When you say the overall playoffs, we did start of without Luka, who is our best rebounder. But just being small. Sometimes, we’ll give up the rebound to take advantage of the offensive side.
“But when we do win, we rebound the ball, and we have to do a better job of that. We didn’t rebound the ball well here in Game 1.”
A great example on Friday came on the first two possessions of the third quarter, when Dwight Powell tipped out an offensive rebound that led to a Jalen Brunson 3-pointer. Then Dorian Finney-Smith crashed in for an offensive board and was fouled on his follow shot.
But that was the exception, not the norm.
“We were a pretty good rebounding team all year,” Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr said. “I think having Loon (Kevon Looney) play a lot of minutes is definitely really helpful for our rebounding. I think Wigs (Andrew Wiggins) has been a different guy on the glass in the playoffs than he was in the regular season.
“There’s just a greater sense of urgency and awareness for sure, and that has to continue.”
Doe-Doe disrespected again: There were 20 players who received at least one first-team all-defense vote. None of them were named Dorian Finney-Smith.
The Mavericks defensive ace got just seven second-team votes, despite another season of constantly hounding the opponents’ best scorers.
In voting by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters, 17 players received more total points in balloting than Finney-Smith.
The all-defense first team included forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Jaren Jackson Jr. of Memphis. Utah’s Rudy Gobert was the center and Boston’s Marcus Smart and Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges were the guards.
The second team: Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Boston’s Robert Williams III, Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle and Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday.
False alarm: There were reports circulating early Friday that Luka Dončić had fallen ill at some point after Wednesday’s loss in Game 1.
If that were the case, it was news to coach Jason Kidd.
“Yeah, he’s fine,” Kidd said. “To my knowledge, he was good this morning. He was good this afternoon. I don’t know if he was sick or not sick. But I think he’s doing fine.”
The 24 points he had in the first half would have seemed to answer any questions.
Afterward, he said: “I was a little bit sick, but it was nothing serious.”
Home-court advantage: The Warriors had one of the loudest and coziest crowds in the NBA when they were at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Across the bay at the spiffy Chase Center, the scene is not nearly as intimate – or as loud, although when the Warriors were making a third-quarter comeback Friday, it got plenty raucous.
“The energy has been fantastic in Chase,’ Kerr said. “I think the arena was built in a way that it maintained some intimacy despite all the bells and whistles. It’s very difficult to build modern arenas and keep an intimate environment.”
The Mavericks came into Friday having won three times on the road in the playoffs – twice at Utah and Game 7 last weekend in Phoenix.
Even so, playing games 3 and 4 at American Airlines Center will be like a slice of heaven for the Mavericks.
They have won five in a row at AAC since losing the playoff opener to Utah.
They haven’t played at home since May 12.
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