Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dallas Mavericks 121, OKC Thunder 112: Dirk! Dirk! Dirk! Dirk!

Man, Jason Terry played one hell of a game.


Well, J.J. Barea was unstoppable.





  • Dirk Nowitzki. 12-15 from the field. 24-24 from the free throw line. No threes attempted. 48 points. Game 1, in the bag. Probably the most adorable aspect of Dirk's heavenly performance was the way the ESPN crew (and Mike Breen especially) were calling the game, as if Dirk was some new thing that no one has ever heard of before. Yes he's amazing. And yes, he's done this before. Also a quick note about Dirk's game to clarify why he doesn't attempt 25 shots at the rim per game -- when Dirk starts out a game, he'll feel out his jumper. If it's working, he keeps using it. There was no need for Dirk to throw himself towards the rim every play because quite frankly, his mid range jumpers were as good as lay ups. If the well way dry? Then I'm sure we would have seen Dirk go to the basket ala Game 5 against Portland.

  • Dirk had only six rebounds and two turnovers. Step your game up Dirk, goodness.

  • Perhaps the most annoying plot to come after the game through the Twitter was the conclusion that OKC played a "bad" game and Dallas played a "perfect" game yet only one by nine. I'm fairly certain OKC played a pretty good game, at least offensively. Serge Ibaka delivered and he's been fairly absent in the playoffs. Kendrick Perkins supplied some points. James Harden wasn't awful. Oh, and Kevin Durant dropped 40 on 18 shots. Sure, Russell Westbrook shot horribly, but guess what? He's done that his entire career against Dallas. Haven't you heard? Surely someone must have told you this.... 
  • Both teams played great offensive games with some horrible defensive execution. Both teams have some room to grow and I feel OKC fans cop out of "well, Dirk isn't going to have this sort of game again" is an ignorant way to look at Game 2 adjustments. Dallas was absolutely horrendous on the pick and roll, leading to Ibaka's parade at the rim. There were some good things (trapping Kevin Durant at above the three point line with Perkins man) but once Ibaka was in the game, the Thunder exploited that. And while Russell Westbrook was only 3-15 from the field, he still had 18 free throw attempts thanks to blow bys against the Dallas guards. Tyson Chandler made sure Westbrook and Durant had to earn their points. Durant did, Westbrook...not so much.

  • Match ups baby, match ups. J.J. Barea looked like the worst thing Dallas has seen since (insert JFK joke here) in the Portland series primarily because of, you guessed it, match ups. The Trail Blazers assortment of tall guards and even longer bigs took away Barea's greatest strengths of driving and finishing at the rim and just managing on defense. In the past two series, there have been no guards that are relatively keen at posting up and with Eric Maynor and Nate Robinson as the Thunder back up PGs, Barea not only stands a chance to contribute, he could be Dallas' second leading scorer. It helps that Barea's screener was a man who had only three entire misses on the night, but there's no telling what Barea can do when he doesn't have to guard Andre Miller, Brandon Roy or Wesley Matthews. 

  • A note about the officiating -- it was some of the worst I've ever seen, both sides, in an NBA playoff game. I understand that both of these teams are experts of exploiting ways to get to the free throw line but some of the fouls on Tyson Chandler and the Thunder bigs were a bit ridiculous. Yes, two hands to the back of a post player is an automatic foul, but there were a few instances were I think the refs just assumed it was going on and gave Dirk the call. Also, can there be no murkier rule then a post defender going straight up? I thought that if the post man still leaves his feet, as long as he is straight up and not hitting arm/wrist of the shooter, it's not a foul. Three of Chandler's fouls were him leaving his feet but jumping straight up, the Thunder player go into his body and then Chandler blocking the ball cleanly. I feel these types of plays are crap shoots with the official.
  • It feels Shawn Marion played a bad game. After all, his man went off for 40 points on 18 shots and he only scored 10 points. Marion did go 5-for-10 from the field, but he went 3-5 at the rim and 2-4 from 3-9 feet. Marion was absolutely torched by Durant off the dribble as once Durant received a down screen from Perkins/Ibaka/Colliosn, he faced Marion up and after one dribble he was gone. The second half wasn't as bad, and Marion was to his credit displaying great effort but just as much the Thunder don't have a chance of stopping Dirk, the Mavs don't have a chance at stopping Durant. Then again, that was already pretty much a given.

  • Ho hum, another bad shooting night for Russell Westbrook against the Mavs. Boy, you would think that maybe Dallas has a pretty good gameplan against Westbrook, huh? Perhaps finally people will realize that yes, Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowtizki are that big of a difference at the rim and yes, funneling Westbrook into your help defenders results in awkwardly missed 15 footers. I don't doubt Westbrook having a good game in this series, but the Mavericks obviously have a plan: go under screens, fall back, funnel into Tyson Chandler, close out on jumpers hard and trust the help defense. Until Westbrook can nail the pull up elbow jumper on a consistent basis or finish better with help defense, he will continue to struggle but also rack up the free throw attempts

  • Pretty sure Jason Kidd is the only starting point guard for a playoff team to have a good game with a 1-for-3 shooting night.

  • What a difference speed makes. After the Lakers lazily got out to Maverick shooters, the Thunder were quick to spring out to the three point line. The Mavericks two shooters most reliant on spot up threes (Peja, Kidd) went a combined 2-for-9 on three. I remember multiple instances of Peja gearing up to launch a corner three but the close out was just too good from the Thunder defense. Same for Kidd as well, as I believe he thought he had normally open looks from the top of the key disappear. 

  • So, Thunder faithful, if Dirk isn't going to "do that again," then does that mean Thabo Sefolosha and Daequan Cook won't go 4-of-5 from three again?

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