The Oklahoma City Thunder got out their brooms and officially swept the defending champion Mavericks from this years playoffs after a 103-95 comeback victory in Dallas last night.
OKC has become the first team to advance to the conference semi-finals. It was also the franchises first postseason sweep since 1996 when the Seattle Supersonics swept the Houston Rockets in the 2nd round.
Need I say more? For those who have doubted the legitimacy of James Harden as a star in this league, last night was proof in the pudding that Harden is the real deal and just as big a part of the Thunders success as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Harden scored 15 of his playoff career-high 29 points in the 4th quarter, including 9 on a critical 12-0 run by the Thunder.
He was a man possessed. No one on the Mavericks was capable of defending his drives to the basket. When he drove left on his strong side, he was untouchable. When he drove right, it threw off the defenders and led to easy scores. A good portion of the credit for this game 4 victory should go to the man who will rightfully be crowned this years NBA Sixth Man of the Year (You know its going to happen).
Hardens epic game 4 performance shouldn’t take away from what his Thunder teammates were able to accomplish. Kevin Durant had a great night shooting from the floor as he finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field.
The high offensive output from Harden and Durant allowed for Russell Westbrook (MVP of this series) to take a breather and become more of a distributor and facilitator with the basketball. While Westbrook had an off night shooting (3 for 12), he still managed to finish with a solid line of 12 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
The Thunder will now have some time off to recuperate and nurse any nagging injuries as they await the winner of the Lakers vs Nuggets series.
MAVERICKS ARE HISTORY
While having the defending champions of the league get swept in the first round of the postseason is certainly surprising, this wasn’t the same team we saw beat the Heat in the finals in 2011.
The entire dynamic of this roster changed dramatically in just one year. These weren’t the Mavericks we are accustomed to seeing.
Dirk Nowitzki tried to salvage this series and send it back to Oklahoma City, but it wasn’t enough. The Mavericks blew a 13 point lead with just 10 minutes left and will now be heading home for the rest of the summer. As always, Nowitzki was the focal point of the Mavericks offensive attack as the big German finished with 34 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He also nailed all 13 of his free throws.
Looking up and down the scorecard and seeing some of the names who were at the forefront of the Mavericks scoring (Jason Terry – 11 points, Jason Kidd – 16 points), you could just tell that this team wasn’t ready to compete with the young guns of OKC anymore.
I will go more in depth on the future of this Mavericks team and franchise in a future article for sircharlesincharge.com.
There isn’t enough time in the world to discuss the uncertainty surrounding the defending world champions in just one recap.
Time to rebuild perhaps?
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”He (James Harden) was phenomenal. His pick and roll game is unreal. It’s fun to watch, fun to be part of. The best part about our team is that we have a lot of guys who can play off each other, and we complement each other well.” – OKC Thunder forward Kevin Durant (yahoo)
”Not our year. Take your hat off to them. They’re a good young team. The balls were definitely bouncing their way. You have to give them credit. It just wasn’t our time.” – Mavericks guard Jason Terry
TWEET OF THE GAME
I would trade every single player on the raptors and their draft pick for James harden #nba
— Steve Hallman (@Steeebo) May 6, 2012
- A reporter from REALGM asked Russell Westbrook in the post-game press conference whether or not James Harden was a max player in this league. Really? I love his answer. Way to shut up a stupid reporter Westbrook.
– Right now, I would take the Big Three of OKC (Harden, Durant, Westbrook) over the Big Three of South Beach (James, Wade, Bosh). Call me crazy, but I seriously would at this point.
– I wish I had a beard like James Harden. I wonder if he has a bird living in that thing. Hmmmmmm…..
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports