The 2022 NBA season is officially over and the Golden State Warriors are champions once again. The Dallas Mavericks haven’t played in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I’m done trying to make them more successful.
The Finals taught us a few things, and hopefully the Mavericks were paying attention. Here are three things to take away from the 2022 Finals.
It looks like the Mavericks are on the right track here, and that’s a good thing. After a few years of amazing offense and blah defense, Jason Kidd and Co. flipped the script. They slowed things down even more and fully focused on defense.
The Mavs finished the regular season with a top-seven defensive efficiency rating and entered the playoffs hanging their hats on their ability to get stops. And guess what, it worked! The Mavs exceeded expectations and made it to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing to the eventual NBA champions.
The Finals featured two teams that what’s more hung up their hats in defense. The two best defenses of the regular season? Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors. And his defenses were only magnified on the biggest stage. Neither team excelled offensively. That’s not how these guys won games. They did it with an intelligent and suffocating defense.
The Warriors won the last three Finals games and held Boston to 97, 94 and 90 points, respectively. It didn’t matter how good the Warriors’ offense was, because need to be that good. It just had to be good enough to resist compared to his defense. And thanks to Steph Curry, he was.
The Mavericks can follow that same mold. If his defense can be elite, Luka Doncic can run his half-court offense the way Steph Curry ran the Warriors’ half-court offense.
So, keep focusing on defense, Dallas. It’s a great way to win NBA games when it matters most.
One of my favorite parts of the Warriors’ championship run was seeing how they used their guys on the sidelines. We knew that Steph Curry was going to shoot out. That was a fact. But time and time again in the Finals, the Warriors relied on guys other teams had given up on.
Gary Payton II was a key contributor to his Finals run and ultimately played 20 minutes in the closing game, finishing with a team-high +18 over/under, thanks in large part to his defensive intensity.
Another guy the Warriors had success with was Nemanja Bjelica. He didn’t play in the closing game and barely played in the playoffs. But he was good enough to play spot minutes when he was advantageous for the Warriors’ matchups.
Gary Payton II and Nemanja Bjelica aren’t the kind of guys who get fans excited in the offseason, but they’re the kinds of guys who can throw crucial minutes in the biggest moments of the season.
Yes, you need a core five to play the most minutes, but everyone on the list is crucial to a team’s success.
This is the biggest and most important lesson, and despite how many times it’s thrown in the face of NBA teams and fans, it always seems to get forgotten.
If you have a chance to win an NBA title, to have do everything in your power to go all out and go for it.
Take a look at the Celtics. Its main nucleus is young. Jayson Tatum is 24 years old and Jaylen Brown is 25. In theory, they should be back and they should be back more than once. But will that really happen? Giannis Antetokounmpo is still the Boss Level you need 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 come back? Yeah. But would you be surprised if it went out the window and they couldn’t get past Giannis, Joel or someone else for the next five years? I wouldn’t be
On the other hand, the Warriors saw their window and jumped out with full enthusiasm. Golden State will continue to be a force to be reckoned with next season, but the Western Conference is only getting better. Luka Doncic arrives. Ja Morant is coming. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are still there. LeBron James exists. The Suns are hungry. Reigning consecutive MVP Nikola Jokic is there. Anthony Edwards and Minnesota have a bright future. Did I mention the roof of Zion Williamson and the Pelicans?
This very well could have been the last chance Steph Curry and company had to add another ring to their trophy case, and they jumped on it.
The Mavs need to do the same with Luka Donic. There can’t be any, “Well, Luka’s still young,” in Dallas. He’s good enough to lead a team to a championship right now, and the Mavs have to do everything they can to maximize every chance they get.
Good news: The acquisition of Christian Wood makes it seem like the Mavs are aware of this.