SAN FRANCISCO -- No more messing around. The Warriors can smell the ultimate prize and sniffed it out from tipoff to the final buzzer Wednesday night at Chase Center in their 112-87 blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Far too often, the Warriors have put themselves in a hole with too many turnovers and costly fouls in the first quarter. This time, they turned the ball over only twice through the first 12 minutes and fouled the Mavs only three times. That's more like it.
Though they did get sloppy for some stretches, none were for too long or too costly. They played with focus and energy, pushing the pace and making the Mavs look like they were trying to solve long division in their heads with the plethora of defenses the Warriors threw their way.
After a slow start for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors' offense turned into a true pick-your-poison situation for the opposition. Curry led the way with 21 points, followed by 19 off the bench from Jordan Poole, 19 from Andrew Wiggins and 15 from Thompson.
Mavs superstar Luka Doncic scored 20 points, but shot 6-for-18 from the field and 3-for-10 on 3-pointers. He turned the ball over seven times.
The Warriors again dominated on the glass, owned the paint and shot 56.1 percent from the field. Now, they find themselves three wins away from being crowned Western Conference champions, with a huge Game 2 looming Friday night.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors taking a crucial lead in this best-of-seven series.
Second-Half Splash Brothers
The Warriors held a nine-point lead going into halftime, and the Splash Brothers of Curry and Thompson were flapping to stay afloat instead of seeing the nets drip at Chase Center. Curry scored 12 points in the first half, but was 4-for-10 from the field and made only one of his first six 3-point attempts. His first make didn't come until his sixth attempt.
Plus, he missed his first two free throws. And still, Thompson was even worse. He was held scoreless in the first half, going 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-3 on 3-point attempts.
That changed dramatically in the second half, starting right away in the third quarter.
Thompson made his first five shots and Curry put on his dancing shoes. These two were back in their natural element in front of the home crowd.
Both Curry and Thompson weren't need much in the fourth quarter, which usually always is a positive for the Warriors. Thompson scored 15 points in the second half while going 7-for-9 from the field and 3-for-6 from long distance. To go with Curry's 21 points, he also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Draymond Green has made his feelings known that some players are built for the playoffs, and others simply aren't. It's pretty clear which side Wiggins belongs on.
His challenge guarding Doncic garnered headlines going into Game 1, and while he did an admirable job there, he also provided the Warriors with offense when they badly needed it. As Curry and Thompson struggled to find their shot throughout the first half, Wiggins was there to step up and lead the way. The Mavs challenged Wiggins and he answered the call inside and outside.
Going into halftime, Wiggins led the Warriors with 15 points on an efficient 6-for-9 from the field and 3-for-5 from long distance. He finished with 19 points, five rebounds, three assist, one steal and one block.
Game by game, Wiggins is proving to be nothing short of a winning player and fitting whatever role Steve Kerr asks of him.
He was a game-high plus-28 in plus-minus. Doncic was a game-low minus-30.
Mixing It Up
Kerr and the rest of the Warriors' coaching staff put on a defensive masterclass. Pull up a chair and take notes. Golden State had Doncic and his supporting staff lost at times.
On one possession, the Warriors would show the Mavs a traditional defense. The next time down, it might be a box-and-1, followed by multiple different zone defense looks. The Warriors know Doncic is going to put up points. It's about making him work and forcing his other teammates to beat them.
The Warriors did exactly that, and the plan worked.
Dallas came into Wednesday night leading all playoff teams by averaging 40.3 3-point attempts per game. They attempted 48 in Game 1 and made only 11. Kerr and Jason Kidd will take a long look at the tape, but if this is any indication of what's to come, there could be long nights ahead for the Mavs and a short series for the Warriors.