DALLAS — His coaches and teammates yelled at Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith late in Sunday’s 111-101 Game 4 win over the Phoenix Suns. They couldn’t believe he had passed up an open 3-point look.
Finney-Smith, an undrafted developmental success story who has established himself as a key member of the Mavs’ core, has come a long way since early in his career, when he recalls former Dallas coach Rick Carlisle instructing him to only take 3s if the shot clock was ticking down.
“Now, they’re telling me shoot it as soon as I get a good look,” Finney-Smith said after going 8-of-12 from long range in the Western Conference semifinals-tying victory.
Finney-Smith, whose 24 points were all on catch-and-shoot 3s, matched three players for the most 3s made in a game this postseason, a list that teammate Maxi Kleber’s performance in a Game 2 win over the Utah Jazz in the first round.
The Mavs really wanted Finney-Smith to get one more shot up because he was one 3 shy of tying Jason Terry’s franchise record for a playoff game, which was set on Mother’s Day in 2011 when the Mavs wrapped up a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers en route to the franchise’s lone championship.
Finney-Smith has developed a reputation as one of the NBA’s best wing defenders, but his improved shooting was among the reasons the Mavs felt comfortable signing him to a four-year, $55.5 million contract extension in February. He shot a career-best 39.5% from 3 this season — and tenth of a percentage higher than last season — and is shooting 43.1% in the playoffs.
“We got to respect Finney-Smith more than we have,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He’s affecting the game on the offensive glass and now he’s shooting the ball well. And we have to respect that.”
The Mavs went 20-of-44 from 3-point range despite Doncic making only one of his 10 attempts. He was still a driving force in Dallas’ long-range success, as eight of 11 assists led to 3s, including five feeds to Finney-Smith.
“Luka told me when I had hit five 3s, ‘You about to get some more,'” Finney-Smith said. “When LD is telling me I’m about to get more 3s, I figured I would get some.”
Doncic, who also had 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals, attributed the Mavs’ two wins during this trip home to drastically improved defense after the Suns scorched them in the first two games of the series. Phoenix had its two lowest-scoring games of these playoffs during the trip to Dallas.
“I don’t think the offense was the problem in any of these games,” said Doncic, who specifically praised Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock for leading the Dallas defense. “If we play defense, we’re a dangerous team.”