Quantcast 2011 NBA western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City vs Dallas

 

Western Conference Finals - The Next Step

 

The first three games of the Western Conference Finals have left the Dallas Mavericks leading the Oklahoma City Thunder two games to one. In these games, we have seen superb performances from superstars Dirk Nowitski and Kevin Durant, outstanding bench play by both teams, an abundance of fouls, the impressive coaching of two former CBA teammates and roommates in Rick Carlisle and Scott Brooks, and Russell Westbrook serving mainly as a non-factor. In order for the Mavericks to finish off the series they must continue to distribute the ball as they have been, continue to play tough defense against Durant and company, stop making idiotic fouls, and control the tempo.

The Mavericks won Game 3 despite an off day for Dirk, who scored only 18 points, due to some remarkable passing. By moving the ball and finding the open man, the Mavericks made the Thunder have to adjust and work to get to the man with the ball. Doing this beat Oklahoma City down while building the confidence of Maverick role players like Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovic and Deshawn Stevenson. While Dirk and Jason Terry will most likely rebound from their below par performance, the team needs to continue passing and moving like they did in Game 3 in order to wear down the Thunder and find easy baskets.

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For the first time in the series the Mavericks played the lockdown defense that has been the difference throughout the playoffs. Durant missed a myriad of shots and had trouble with Marion, while Stevenson and the much older Jason Kidd showed strong defensive effort on Russell Westbrook throughout the game. Marion finally displayed the effort that the Mavericks have known he could bring. His defense was nothing short of spectacular and it set the tone for the rest of the team. The Thunder hit only one three pointer, which came late in the fourth quarter, and struggled to find easy shots. In order to win this series, the Mavs must continue to give their all on the defensive end and force the Thunder to throw up difficult shots. Coach Carlisle did a wonderful job of matching players up and must continue to do so or else the Mavericks will revert to the horrid display of Game 2.

The reason for the late surge by the Thunder was a plethora of idiotic fouls by Dallas. By fouling like the team did, the Mavs allowed Oklahoma City to not only cut into the lead but stop the clock. The Mavericks have had a tendency to make stupid fouls throughout the year and that has continued in the playoffs. In Game 2 of the series vs. Los Angeles, Terry moronically fouled Lamar Odom as he shot from half court as the clock expired before the half, followed by a Dirk Nowitski technical. In order to close out the Thunder and move on to the NBA Finals, the team must stop giving away leads and points by distributing cheap fouls. If this is done, it will be that much harder for OKC to stay alive in this best of seven series.

 

 

The tempo of the game may be the biggest factor in the team controlling their destiny. In Game 3, the Mavericks slowed the game down and moved the ball in order to use up the clock and find easy baskets. The Thunder, on the other hand, want to play a quick, non-stop running attack that plays to their strengths. The Mavericks must continue to slow the game down like they did in Game 3. This is vital to the team’s success and will be the single greatest factor in the rest of the series.

The Dallas Mavericks have not yet played a full game like they are capable. In order to do so, they must play defense like they did in Game 3, have Dirk play like the superstar that he is, and have supporting players display their skill set without trying to do too much. They lead 2-1 right now, but must continue to play like they are behind in the series in order to show fans and doubters alike that the past is gone and that this team has a legitimate shot at winning a championship.

 

By: Jake M. Wertheim
ProBasketball-fans.com Staff Writer


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