After Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson slowed down, caught their breath and stopped rushing shots, the Splash Brothers got on a roll that proved too much for Dallas to stop.
Especially because Andrew Wiggins worked end to end to make sure Luka Dončić couldn’t get going.
Curry had 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, Golden State hero Dončić in check and the Warriors beat the Mavericks 112-87 on Wednesday night for a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
“Just make him work, that was the main thing,” Wiggins said.
Dončić scored 20 points but shot just 6 for 18 and 3 of 10 from deep. He made back-to-back three-pointers late in the first half to get his team within 54-45 at the break, but Curry and Thompson heated up and helped the Warriors pull away in the second half.
“A great job. That’s it,” Dončić said. “They did a great job.”
Jalen Brunson scored 14 points but missed all five of his threes for the surprising Mavs, who stunned the top-seeded Suns in a 123-90 thumping in Game 7 on Sunday in Phoenix.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Friday night at Chase Center, where the raucous, yellow-clad sellout crowd brought back memories of that 2007 “We Believe” Warriors playoff team led by Baron Davis that shocked the No 1-seeded Mavericks in a six-game first-round upset at Oracle Arena.
That helped propel Golden State back to prominence. The warriors reached five straight NBA finals from 2015-19 but missed the playoffs the past two years before this run.
Wiggins added 19 points, getting Golden State going by making six of his first eight shots on the way to shooting 8 for 17. Jordan Poole also scored 19 off the bench.
Dončić received a scratch across his face early from a first-quarter swipe by Wiggins. The mark – “makes me look tough,” he quipped – went from the bridge of the star guard’s nose across his right cheek under the eye. Dončić also tugged at his troublesome right shoulder that has been taped previously during these playoffs.
“They did a really good job. Wiggins picking him up full court,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “They went box and one, they went zone. We understood coming into the series that we were going to see that. We’ll go back and look at the video and see what we can do better.”
Stopping Dončić, who was averaging 31.5 points in the playoffs, is the tall task this time after the Warriors already handled two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver in the first round, then Ja Morant early last series before his knee injury.
“I thought Wiggs was fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Dončić is as difficult to cover as there is in this league. … It’s important to make him work. Hey’s so good. Any great player in the league you’re trying to limit the damage that they do.”
Curry, last season’s scoring champ, missed his initial five three-point tries before connecting with 50 seconds left in the first half. But he got involved other ways by dishing out four assists and grabbing seven rebounds.
Then he hit two quick threes in sparking a 10-2 burst to begin the third for a Golden State squad that eliminated Memphis in a six-game semifinal series.
“It’s how we play,” Curry said. “When you have that ability to create separation like we did in the third quarter, it’s a fun way to play.”
Thompson scored all of his 15 points after halftime.
“I didn’t have a field goal in the first half but that will never discourage me,” Thompson said. “I will always hunt my shot.”
Kevon Looney stayed in the starting lineup for Kerr as the coach made his return to the bench after sitting out the final three games against Memphis with Coviid-19.
“It was great to be back. I missed being out there with the guys,” Kerr said. “Amazing atmosphere here at Chase and we’re excited to keep going.”
Looney finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists after coming in to start the Game 6 clincher against the Grizzlies.
Kidd’s Mavericks couldn’t keep up in a drastic contrast of styles featuring the slow-paced Dallas attack and up-tempo Warriors.
“We would like to play our pace but the Warriors have a unique pace, they’re going to get out and put a lot of pressure on your defense in transition,” Kidd said. “We have to be cautious of that. We don’t want a track meet.”