This series isn’t “technically” over by any means, but the Dallas Mavericks are now hanging on by the thinnest of threads after tonight’s game 3 loss.
The Oklahoma City Thunder waltzed into the American Airlines Center and thoroughly dominated the Mavericks on both sides of the ball on route to a 95-79 victory. The Thunder now have a stranglehold on this series leading 3 games to none.
NIGHT AND DAY
What happened to the Dallas Mavericks team that pushed the Oklahoma City Thunder to the brink in 2 games on the road in OKC? This wasn’t the same group of guys.
This was a must-win game for the Mavs. We were all expecting a performance from these players similar to what we saw in games 1 and 2. What we ended up with was the complete opposite of that. There were moments in which Dallas was close enough on the scoreboard to make it interesting, but this game was never the Mavericks to win.
Dallas shot a pathetic 34% (26 for 76) from the field and turned the ball over 15 times.
Dirk Nowitzki had a semi-productive day (17 points, 9 rebounds, 6 for 15 shooting), but the team clearly needed more from its star on this night. There was not one player on this roster outside of maybe Nowitzki that had himself a game to be proud of.
Shawn Marion (6 points, 10 rebounds, 1 for 8 shooting) was a ghost out there on the court. He didn’t even hit a shot from the field until early in the fourth quarter when the game was completely out of reach anyways.
Jason Terry finished with 11 points and 6 assists, but he shot the ball poorly (3 for 10 from the field) and turned the ball over 4 times. The quicker legs of the Thunder guards proved to be too much for the veteran Terry to contend with.
The emotions of the Mavericks players and coaching staff were clearly rattled throughout the night as Dallas finished with 4 technical fouls (Delonte West, Dirk Nowitzki, Brian Cardinal, Rick Carlisle). The frustrations of an overall bad night at the office were just too overbearing for some to handle properly. Clearly….
With the series now 3-0 in favour of Oklahoma City, the Dallas Mavericks are going to have to channel some of that magic that won them an NBA Championship last year to come back from this seemingly impossible deficit. The Mavericks would be the first defending champion since the 2006 Miami Heat to be eliminated in the first round the following season.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The Oklahoma City Thunder made an emphatic statement by destroying the defending champions on their home court and never trailing at any moment in the game.
After going a combined 15 for 44 in the first 2 games, the leagues leading scorer Kevin Durant had his coming out party in game 3. He finished with 31 points on 11 for 15 shooting and hit 4 of his 6 attempts from long range. Durant had poor shooting performances in games 1 and 2 and the Thunder barely pulled out victories.
Durant shot the lights out in game 3 and the Mavericks got blown out in the process.
Russell Westbrook had his third straight 20+ point outing of the series as he finished game 3 with 20 points on 8 for 19 shooting. He also added 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. The Thunder coaching staff realize that the Mavericks guards don’t have the lateral quickness and stamina to defend a guy like Russell Westbrook. He has exploited his matchup every single night and has been the MVP of the postseason for Oklahoma City after the first 3 games.
Surprisingly enough (with the game out of reach), neither man had much of an impact in the fourth quarter. Those roles were given to a couple of seldom used guards in Derek Fisher and Daequan Cook. The 2 combined for 19 points off the bench and 5 big three-pointers. Even the 37-year old Fisher looked like he was 10 years younger driving the ball to the rim with great ease and poise on a regular basis.
The defensive showing by OKC in the third quarter was the big difference maker in this game. They held Dallas to just 4 of 18 shooting and forced the Mavericks into 4 key turnovers.
What many expected to be a long and drawn out series is now just 1 game away from being over completely.
The Thunder wouldn’t have it any other way. A sweep of the defending champion Mavericks would send a loud message to the rest of the league that they are primed and ready to contend for their own NBA championship.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”This might have been one of the best games of the year. Especially on the road and the type game it was.” – Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (yahoo)
”We’ve got to win A game. You’ve got to show some pride on Saturday and just play a better game.” – Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (yahoo)
TWEET OF THE GAME
This blowout’s so bad, Deron Williams would rather stay with the Nets.
— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) May 4, 2012
- Remember in my previous recap when I said that this series was more than likely going the full 7 games? Well…..I’m sorry about that. As an apology to all of the SCIC readers, here’s a little Kate Upton hanging with Kevin Durant and James Harden before a game. Still mad?
GAME 4: Oklahoma City at Dallas, Sat., May 5, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports