Mavericks belong in conference finals but are a few pieces away from winning it all

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks struggled to hit shots as the Golden State Warriors came into the American Airlines Center and picked up 109-100 win to go up 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Luka Doncic had 40-plus points for the second straight game, but it was not enough against the best team of this generation.

No team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win the series in the NBA playoffs. 146 teams have tried, and just three have won three straight to force a Game 7. The Mavs would make history if they can come all the way back to advance or they will be eliminated.

Luka has Dallas ahead of schedule again. After the Kristaps Porzingis trade at the deadline, the Mavs front office thought it would take time to build a contender around Doncic. The move was made to give them more flexibility and help them find the right pieces around number 77. Luka pushed them to the conference finals just three months later. Dallas proved they belong, but are not quite ready for championship contention.

Dallas Mavericks belong in conference finals but are a few pieces away from winning it all

It was just over one week ago that the Mavs went on the road and knocked out the Phoenix Suns in a historic Game 7 performance. The Suns had the best regular-season record in the league and one of the best starting fives. Luka Doncic was not going to let Dallas lose that decisive contest, and he is already one of the league's top five players.

Doncic averages 32.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game in the postseason, and he has already proven that no team or defense can slow him down when the games matter most. The Mavericks have the hardest piece to acquire, and his five-year supermax extension is about to kick in this summer. Luka will be leading the Mavs for the foreseeable future, but Dallas is not a complete team around him.

Head coach Jason Kidd only has six players he is comfortable playing significant postseason minutes. Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock are 3-and-D wings on a championship team. Maxi Kleber is a floor-spacing big man that can defend on the perimeter and protect the rim, but he is best suited as a reserve on a title squad. Spencer Dinwiddie can be their sixth man and gives them another shot creator off the bench.

Jalen Brunson has proven he is a starter in his breakout fourth NBA season, but he is headed towards free agency. The 25-year-old will be unrestricted and free to sign with any team. Dallas needs to keep JB because their cap situation will prevent them from signing his replacement.

The Mavericks need more depth, rebounding, and another star. Dallas has been dominated on the glass in all three series in this year's playoffs, so adding a big man that grabs rebounds and holds his own defensively in the postseason is a must. They would love to add another 3-and-D wing with that big man to give them eight trusted rotation options.

Acquiring a second-star player is never easy. Someone will ask out this summer, but the league’s marquee names often get to pick their destination. Can the Mavericks vault themselves to the top of that list? Their run to the Western Conference Finals certainly helped, but Dallas may not quite be there yet.

They took an important step this season. The Mavs won their first playoff series since 2011 and found a way to reach the Western Conference Finals for just the fifth time in franchise history. Luka Doncic is a proven star, but he is still learning how to win the NBA Playoffs. All the greats suffered postseason losses early in their careers that helped them reach the pinnacle.

The Dallas Mavericks beat the best team in the NBA to advance to the conference finals. They deserve to be here, but the Warriors are proving Dallas is still a few pieces away from winning a championship.

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