Three things the Dallas Mavericks can learn from the 2022 NBA Finals

The 2022 NBA season has officially ended and the Golden State Warriors are back as champions. The Dallas Mavericks haven’t played in weeks, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to get more success from them anymore.

The finale taught us something, and I hope the Mavericks took notice. Here are three things to take away from the 2022 finale.

Looks like the Mavericks are on the right track, which is a good thing. After years of mind-blowing offense and goofy defense, Jason Kidd & Co. has turned the script around. They slowed things down even more and focused entirely on defense.

The Mavs finished the regular season with a seventh defensive performance rating and made the playoffs proud of their stoppage ability. And guess what – it worked! The Mavs exceeded expectations and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing to the eventual NBA champions.

Two teams took part in the final also hung up their hats for protection. The two best defenses in the regular season? Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors. And their defenses were only strengthened on the biggest stage. None of the teams lost in attack. These guys didn’t win games like that. They did it with smart, choke protection.

The Warriors won the last three games of the Finals and held Boston with 97, 94, and 90 points, respectively. It doesn’t matter how good the Warriors’ offense is because it doesn’t need be so good. It just had to be good enough to stand up to their defenses. And thanks to Steph Curry, it was.

The Mavericks may follow the same pattern. If their defense can be elite, Luka Doncic can lead their half-court offense in the same way that Steph Curry led the Warriors’ half-court offense.

So focus on defense, Dallas. It’s a good way to win NBA games when it matters most.

One of my favorite parts of the Warriors’ championship run was watching them use their guys on the fringes. We knew Steph Curry would be out of his depth. It was a given. But time and time again in the Finals, the Warriors trusted guys that other teams had turned down.

Gary Payton II played a key role in their final game and ended up playing 20 minutes in the closing game, finishing with a team record of +18 plus/minus, thanks in large part to his defensive intensity.

Another guy the Warriors had success with was Nemanja Belica. He did not play in the final game and hardly played in the playoffs. But he was good enough to play points when it was profitable for the Warriors.

Gary Payton II and Nemanja Bjelica aren’t the kind of guys who get fans excited during the off-season, but they’re the kind of guys who can play key moments in the most important moments of the season.

Yes, you need a top five to play most of the minutes, but everyone in the roster is critical to a team’s success.

This is the biggest and most important lesson, and despite how many times it has come to the attention of NBA teams and fans, it always seems to be forgotten.

If you have a chance to win an NBA title, you have do everything in your power to go for broke and go for it.

Take a look at the Celtics. Their main core is young. Jason Tatum is 24 and Jaylen Brown is 25. In theory, they should come back, and should come back more than once. But will it really happen? Giannis Antetokounmpo is still the tier boss to beat in the Eastern Conference. Trae Young is promising. Joel Embiid is still there. The Raptors have an exciting core. Remember Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets?

Should Boston return? Yes. But would you be surprised if they missed their window and couldn’t get past Giannis, Joel or anyone else for the next five years? I wouldn’t be.

On the other hand, the Warriors saw their window and jumped in with utter enthusiasm. Golden State will still be a force to be reckoned with next season, but the Western Conference is only getting better. Luka Doncic is coming. Ja Morant is coming. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are still there. LeBron James exists. The suns are hungry. There is Nikola Jokic, the current MVP. Anthony Edwards and Minnesota have a great future. Did I mention Zion Williamson’s ceiling and the Pelicans?

It’s possible that this was Steph Curry and company’s last chance to add another ring to their trophy box and they jumped over it.

The Mavs need to do the same with Luka Donik. In Dallas, you can’t have “Well, Luka’s still young.” He’s good enough to lead the team to the championship right now and the Mavs need to do everything they can to maximize every chance they have.

Good news: The acquisition of Christian Wood gives the impression that the Mavs know about it.

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