The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 93, Oklahoma City Thunder 87

Posted by Ian Levy on May 22, 2011 under Recaps | 6 Comments to Read


TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Oklahoma City97.737.

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • The Mavericks’ offense was magnificent in the first half. Every movement was crisp and precise, whichmade the Thunder’s stagnation even more apparent. By my count the Thunder attempted just five shots at the rim in the 1st Quarter, with two coming on offensive rebounds. Everything else was on the perimeter. Both sides had plenty of movement, but the Mavericksdisplayed a prescient awareness of where space would be, moving there as it opened up. The Thunder seemed to be seeking open space, and in most cases it eluded their desperate chase. On offense, the Thunder players were looking for opportunities to score; the Mavericks were waiting for opportunities to score. One Dallas offensive possession, in particular, stood out to me. Their second possession of the 2nd Quarter started with a Jason Terry steal. Within 12 seconds, the ball had crossed half-court, at least four passes had been made, three different Mavericks had touched the ball, nearly every Thunder defender had been forced to make a rotation, and Dirk Nowtizki had knocked down an open 16 footer.
  • In the 4th Quarter the Mavericks’ offense came off the rails. They scored enough to hold on and win, but gave up quite a bit of ground. Instead of the movement and passing that helped them build their lead, which had gone as high as 23 points, there seemed to be a concerted effort to “Get the ball to Dirk.” This resulted in isolation after isolation. A few tough defensive possessions from Nick Collison and the Thunder were back within striking distance.
  • Kevin Durant had a tough night, as Stevenson and Marion hounded him into a 7 of 22 performance. Durant certainly helped them out by staying on the perimeter. Just 4 of his 22 shot attempts came at the rim, and just one of those 4 was taken before the 4th Quarter. Some may point to his 0 of 8 shooting on three-pointers as a fluke. However, most of those long jumpers were contested and he struggled all game long to find enough space to operate comfortably.
  • Tyson Chandler completely out-Perkinsed Kendrick Perkins. Chandler finished with a game high 15 rebounds, and stated clearly that the paint belonged to him from the game’s outset. The physicality and nastiness that Chandler has brought to the Dallas back line is what Perkins was supposed to give Oklahoma City. Kind of makes you wonder what would have happened if the Chandler to Oklahoma City trade, of two years ago, hadn’t been voided because of his toe injury.
  • I’m a basketball nerd so I see references and connections everywhere. ESPN’s time out feature during the 1st Quarter, on notable playoff beards was clearly paying homage, intentionally or incidentally, to the now-defunct FreeDarko and the “Hair up There” section in their Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History. Well done, nameless ESPN segment producer.
  • The biggest storyline going into this game was Thunder coach, Scott Brooks, holding Russell Westbrook out for the entire 4th quarter of Game 2. The narrative coming out of Game 3 will likely continue to focus on Westbrook; but I’m curious to see what shape it will take. Westbrook was 8 of 20 from the field, and scored 30 points, thanks to 14 free throw attempts. His critics will likely focus on his 7 turnovers and 4 assists. I would be happy to offer criticism of Russell Westbrook for his play tonight, but none of it would focus on the ratio between his shot attempts and Durant’s. A comparison of their shot attempts as an evaluation of his effectiveness misses the point completely. Despite how it’s been framed this week, the problem is not a trade-off between Westbrook forcing the action or Durant getting open looks. It’s a trade-off between Westbrook forcing the action or Durant forcing the action. The Thunder offense created next to nothing in terms of open looks for Durant tonight. That’s an indictment of the entire team and everything leading up to the culmination of each possession, not just Westbrook’s ability and willingness to deliver the ball.

Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, a contributor to Indy Cornrows, and a part of The Two Man Game family. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

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  • mitchell boone

    Good write up. I think that the mavs showed last night what makes a dallas sports team. I have so much hope for this team because of the talent and “it” factor, and I fear they can blow it at anytime. The dichotomy between the two is unfortunately what is becoming a Dallas trend.

  • Eduardo Roman

    Very good Recap Ian. I think the Thunder presents a very tough challenge for the Mavs. With all due respect, Perkins has been a liability for the Thunder, the minute they start using him less, it's going to be really hard for the Mavs.

    • HickoryHigh

      I had my eye on Perkins right from the start of the game. I marked the time in the 1st Quarter when the Thunder replaced him with Nick Collison, thinking things would tighten up a bit. But at that point, the Mavs were already rolling and the Thunder were already forcing things, so the lead kept growing. In the second half though the Thunder closed the gap with Collison on the floor. Collison's defense on Dirk was terrific in the 4th quarter, as good as I've seen anyone cover him in these playoffs.

      • Kirk Henderson

        Collison is much more adept at getting away with the hand to hand combat that was his defense that game.  He was fouling on a majority of his defense, but upon review, outside of the ridiculous body contact he got away with, all of his handsy motions were borderline brilliant.  Of course, a different game might've resulted in another ref calling fouls with that sort of stuff, but major props to Collison for having the balls first to try it and second to keep running with it.

        • hop scotch

          I agree with this. Collison is getting away with a lot of (admittedly clever) physicality on- and off-ball. I don't think it's any coincidence that Dirk finished with 7 turnovers when he usually gets 1 or maybe 2. I seriously wonder whether this is similar to the Shaq or Dwight effect, wherein a player seems so difficult to guard under ordinarily rules that refs will bend things a little bit. Or maybe a little bit of evening out for the number of touch-fouls in Game 1. Hopefully things are a little more “normal” tonight.