Round 3, Game 3 (OKC v Dallas)

Ah, how the plot thickens.  Not really, since I did expect the Mavs to pull at least one out in OKC before all was said and done.  But still, this game did not follow any script that I was writing – and that’s an understatement.  The game was a strange combination of many, many factors with no one player having a great game, and I truly believe this is as interesting a game as you’ll ever see.

Let’s start with the Thunder: Durant had a “bad” game.  He shot 32%, made no 3’s (OKC was 1/17 as a team) and had no luck defending Marion in the first or blocking out Chandler in the 4th.  He still finished with 24 points, 11 of 12 from the stripe, 12 (not a typo) boards, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.  Not bad for a guy having an “off game.”  Furthermore, Westbrook shot 8 for 20 (40%, which is sensational for him), made 12 of 13 freebies, and hit OKC’s only 3-pointer of the night (alright, alright, he also managed just 2 rebs, 4 assists and a whopping 7 TOs).  Collison was 4/4 with 9 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals… Maynor played only 6 minutes in the entire game (half what he played in the 4th quarter alone in game 3).  Finally, Harden went 0-4 from three, yet managed 9 rebounds.

Couple that with Nowitzki’s 18 point, 33% FG percentage, miniscule 4 rebounds and 7 ghastly turnovers, Chandler’s 8 points, 15 rebs, Marion’s 18 points and Terry’s 25% shooting and it’s no surprise that the stats don’t give you much for the game.

In reality, this game was a sloppy mess of contradictions on all sides.  The Mavs played fabulous defense against the Thunder… except they put OKC on the line 36 times (OKC doubled Dallas in FT attempts – a storyline that will be completely lost since Dallas won in the end); Westbrook had a great game… except he turned the ball over 7 times; Dirk was completely shackled all game, committed an equally appalling 7 turnovers… and still crushed the Thunder with a few late-game shots; Dallas’ bench was key to it’s victory… but only managed to shoot 10-29; Dallas won the game with defense… except they let up 31 points in the 4th.  That all is to say that the game didn’t have a solid, concise theme.  Instead, it had more dips and turns than a windy mountain road.

The turning point in the game had to be when Dirk hit his only three of the game, a beautiful rainbow that temporarily stemmed the tide of the Thunder onslaught.  I chose this play, because before, the Thunder had shaved off 8 points from the lead in a matter of minutes, but after, their progress slowed to a crawl.  OKC still almost pulled off a colossal upset, but, as it did in game 1, fell short at the end.

The player of the game has to go to Marion simply because he scored and defended beautifully, being the dual threat Dallas needed to force Durant out of his comfort zone.  Props also go to Kidd (13-6-8-2), Westbrook (30 pts, singlehandedly made all Dallas fans shudder in the 4th), Nowitzki (came up huge down the stretch), Chandler (15 boards, great D and 8 bonus points), and Nick Collison who scored 9 points, got 6 rebounds an assist, 2 steals and 2 blocks, as well as half a dozen fantastic defensive plays on Nowitzki that almost made Dirk lose his cool.  Collison has been nothing short of fantastic in this series and has really gotten under Dirk’s skin.  If he can stay there, OKC really has a chance to beat Dallas, even down 2-1.

Going forward, I think we can all agree this game will be something of an anomaly.  Dirk and Durant will not go 14-43 again anytime soon, defense can hardly be trusted to play such a major role in a game again, the Thunder will not miss all their threes again, Maynor will get more minutes, and Haywood will not be a force down low again (sorry, buddy).  OKC now faces a must-win in game 4 knowing that even stopping Dirk will not automatically win them games (unlike some stupid basketblogger predicted).  Dirk and Terry combined to shoot a percentage so low my calculator can’t reach it (jokes), but somehow (actually, just by hanging on to Durant ala Tony Allen, and teeing off on OKC’s offensively challenged starting lineup) managed to win.  Each made bigs plays down the stretch, helping to seal the game.

Dallas survived on a night where everything went wrong in the second half.  OKC needs to be bashing it’s head against the wall and trying to replicate tonight’s performance defensively going into Monday’s crucial game.  The Thunder blew a fantastic opportunity to take a lead on the Mavs.  Instead, they’re down 2-1 and need a lot of help to dig their way out.

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

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