The Dallas Mavericks are in trouble and on the brink of elimination after falling behind the Golden State Warriors 0-3 in the Western Conference finals. But, Luka Doncic and the Mavs have a chance to save face and avoid a sweep with a win in Game 4 on Tuesday night in Dallas.

The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic dribbles into traffic and gets swarmed by Steph Curry and Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors. (Image: Porter Lambert/Getty)

The Mavs are a -1 favorite at home in Game 4. During the regular season, the Mavs were 28-12-2 ATS at the American Airlines Center. Overall in the postseason, the Mavs are 9-7 ATS.

The Mavs are a huge underdog at +3000 odds to defy the near impossible and rally back from down 0-3 to knock the Warriors out and win the series in seven games. Meanwhile, bettors have to lay astronomical odds if they want to back the Warriors to win the series at -10000.

If you wanted to make a prop bet on the series, a 4-0 sweep by the Warriors pays even money at +100 at DraftKings. If you think the Mavs will avoid a sweep with a win in Game 4, but then the Warriors lock up the series in Game 5 back in San Francisco, then a 4-1 series score by the Warriors pays +150.

The Warriors are the consensus favorite to win the 2022 NBA Championship at -155 odds while the Mavs are the moon-shot on the futures board at +6000 odds.

Which Mavs will help Doncic in Game 4?

Doncic averages 34 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game against the Warriors with back-to-back 40-point games. The best way to beat the Mavs in the postseason is to let Doncic score 40-plus points and then shut down his supporting cast.

Whenever Doncic scored more than 40 points this postseason, the Mavs are 0-3. It’s happened twice in this series already. Doncic scored 42 points in Game 2, but the Mavs blew a huge lead and lost by nine points. In Game 3, he scored 41 points, but the Mavs lost by nine points. In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Doncic torched the Phoenix Suns for 45 points, but the Mavs lost by seven.

Whenever the Mavs have someone other than Jalen Brunson have a great game, it’s usually a recipe for a victory. The Mavs tend to live and die by the 3-point shot, jacking up 46 per game against the Warriors. When spot-up shooters and role players like Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Maxi Kleber miss their wide-open treys, it’s a recipe for disaster.

“Sometimes we shoot too many threes,” said head coach Jason Kidd. “Especially after we miss three or four in a row. That’s when we need an old-school bucket. I know it’s tough. Shooters have to keep shooting to maintain their confidence, but sometimes when you’re cold, it’s contagious.”

The Mavs shot 45 3-pointers in Game 3, but only knocked down 28.9% of them. Bullock, Kleber, and Bertans combined to go 0-for-12 from deep. Sure, you can give the Warriors some credit for strong perimeter defense on contested shots, but the Mavs are also on the hook for missing so many wide-open looks.

Warriors in the zone

Steve Kerr employed a zone defense to stop the Mavs, but the question remains, is it really working, or are the Mavs just missing too many 3-pointers? How about both.

The Warriors run a 1-2-2 zone with a forward at the top of the key to greet Doncic when he brings the ball across midcourt. The Mavs tend to milk the clock and eat 15 or so seconds before running a play, so there’s a lot of Doncic dribbling around while the rest of the Mavs try to find a spot on the perimeter.

If Doncic penetrates, he’ll get swarmed by a second or third defender. When he kicks it out, the Warriors are quick with their defensive rotation and closeouts. If the Mavs are able to make an extra pass to find an open player, the Mavs are outright missing those shots.

In Game 1, the Mavs struggled with a 22.9% success rate from behind the arc on 11-for-48 shooting. The Warriors were able to withstand a hot shooting night from the Mavs in Game 2 when their gunslingers knocked down 46.7% of their treys on 21-for-45. However, the Warriors countered with sensational shooting of their own, connecting on 50% of their long-range attempts at 14-for-28. During the last game, the Mavs shot 13-for-45 for 28.9% in Game 3. The Warriors countered with 11 treys of their own, including five from Steph Curry.

Until the Mavs start hitting their 3-pointers to bust the zone, the Warriors are going to keep using it in Game 4. So long as Doncic insists on being the hero by scoring a ton of points, the Mavs are going to let him hog the ball while limiting his teammates’ offensive production.

Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.