10. Even though there was only 1.4 seconds remaining – time for maybe a long pass, one dribble and a desperation heave – you would have liked to have seen the Mavs more organized after Kevin Durant’s game-winner. With no timeouts, surely head coach Rick Carlisle drew up a play just in case OKC scored to take the lead? Sure didn’t look like it. Instead, Shawn Marion took an inbound pass well in the backcourt, dribbled three times and launched a harmless shot well after the buzzer. Chances of hitting a shot in that situation are about 2 percent. But if you don’t have a plan or a clue, chances are 0 percent.
9. Difference in this game was Thunder center Serge Ibaka. Not only did he score 22 points, but produced six dunks and constantly thwarted the Mavs’ Ian Mahinmi and Vince Carter at the rim. Hate to be a buzzkill, but Tyson Chandler finished a lot of the point-blank shots that Dallas missed.
8. If Dirk Nowitzki produces only two more baskets (8) than turnovers (6) the Mavs won’t win a game in this series. Simple. His two turnovers off loose dribbles were mind-boggling and his soft foul allowing Ibaka a three-point play were inexplicable mistakes that directly helped his team lose. It may not be his style, but Dirk’s gotta take a hard foul there and make a 65-percent free-throw shooter earn two points at the line.
7. Um, Failure Jesus, you need to get to gettin’. Mavs’ fans have prayed for Russell Westbrook to fail but, so far so bad. He made every mid-range jumper and in the fourth quarter locked down Jason Terry on defense. Worst of all, he kept his emotions in check. Not good. And with Delonte West obviously slowed by a bout with dirty oysters, why wasn’t Roddy Beaubois used to chase the Thunder point guard?
6. Mavs lost this game in the final 2:30 yes, but also at the end of the second and third quarters. Leading by six and with a chance to expand their lead into halftime, Dallas instead got an offensive foul from Nowitzki and then watched Ibaka drain a 3-pointer – only the third of his career. A lead that could’ve been eight was instead three at the break. At the end of the third Nowitzki threw away a pass for turnover and the Mavs then allowed James Harden an offensive rebound and free throws. Those wasted possessions and crucial coughed-up points are deadly on the road in the playoffs, especially when you wind up losing by one.
5. Even though he showed promising flashes during the regular season, I’m afraid the playoffs are too big of a stage and too physical of a game for Brandan Wright. He was just overwhelmed and ineffective.
4. Props to Durant for admitting that he didn’t see the rim and that “It looked bad leaving my hand”. But zero props for him and Westbrook showing up together for post-game press conference – in matching, unnecessary black-framed geek glasses. Better than last year’s backpack, I guess.
3. Mavs lost a heart-breaker in Portland in Game 4 last year. They lost at home to OKC in Game 2 last spring. And they trailed the Heat in The NBA Finals twice before rallying to win. Point is the Mavs are a battle-tested team, and they’ll respond. But a savvy team just has to find a way to close out a road playoff game in which they lead 94-87 with 2:31 remaining. Down the stretch they didn’t score a basket, getting a missed Dirk 3, a Nowitzki turnover, a missed jumper by Carter and another Dirk lost dribble. Heart of a champion is great and all, but you’ve got to combine that with the head of a winner.
2. Not a good sign: The Mavs lost a playoff game in which they got more rebounds, shot more free throws and made 10 3-pointers. Other than the turnovers in the final two minutes, I’m not sure they can play much better.
1. I know we’re supposed to tip our caps to Durant, but, let’s admit it, that was a lucky shot. With Marion in his face and unable to see the rim, he lofted a prayer that – although short and left – somehow was answered with 1.4 seconds remaining. Can’t see the basket … off the front rim … over the square on the backboard … nothing but net? It’s lucky because he couldn’t make that shot if he tried. But as we’re often reminded in sports: Lucky often trumps good.
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