Blog Entry

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:24 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 2:05 am
Posted by Royce Young

After Dirk Nowitzki started the game 6-6 from the floor, you knew it was a bad sign for the Thunder. The main objective and main fear for Thunder fans was the impossible matchup Dirk presented.

Oklahoma City tried a little bit of everything. Serge Ibaka. Nick Collison. Kevin Durant. Even 6-7 shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha took a spin on Dirk for a few possessions. When Nate Robinson came to the scorer's table to check in to start the fourth, I thought, "Man, Scott Brooks is really desperate. He's willing to try anything on Dirk."

But it was just that type of night. And by "that type of night" I mean a historic playoff night for Dirk. He finished with 48 on only 15 shots (that's 3.2 per attempt) and went 24-24 from the free throw line, which is an NBA record. The Mavs had an offensive efficiency of 130.1, shot 54 percent and got 53 points from their bench. By almost every indication, they whipped the Thunder in Game 1, right?


Oklahoma City was never entirely in the game, but with four minutes left, the Thunder were down just five. A single stop and a basket and OKC would've been right in the game.

The Thunder stayed close because Kevin Durant was terrific (40 points on 10-18 shooting) and the team went to the free throw line a ton (37-43). But despite the Mavs playing what felt like a near perfect game, OKC was right there. And this is without Russell Westbrook -- the Thunder's second best player -- playing a good game at all. Westbrook was just 3-15 from the floor, but did score 20 points thanks to a 14-18 effort at the line.

“I could bet my whole house that Russell Westbrook won’t go 3-15 again,” Durant said after the game. “You can quote me on that.”

Tyson Chandler had a lot to do with that the way he patrolled the rim, but Westbrook is normally better at finishing there. He struggled in Game 1 against Memphis much the same way, but I never thought Westbrook was doing anything to shoot the Thunder out of it or anything. So if you want a reason to be encouraged, I’d say the Thunder’s second best scorer went 3-15 from the floor, Dirk had a historic night and OKC was a stop or two away from having a shot.

Not completely bad, right?

If you're a Thunder fan, you have reason to feel a slight tinge of encouragment after the Game 1 loss. OKC outscored the Mavs in two quarters and held a 27-20 lead after the first. Really what doomed the Thunder was a poor second quarter in which Dallas outscored the Thunder 35-21. Take that away and OKC is completely in the game every step of the way.

It doesn't seem like Dirk will be able to duplicate this sort of game again. The Thunder should do better on him. Maybe he doesn't get to the line 24 times again. Whatever the case, percentages say the Mavs will come back to Earth a bit.

The Thunder just have to regroup a bit and readjust. Come up with a bit better plan for Dirk and try and limit some of the open jumpshooting the Mavs had. I actually am mildly encouraged despite the loss. Being down 0-1 isn’t good and isn’t ideal and it means there’s more pressure for Game 2. But if there’s anything this Thunder team does very well, it’s bounce back.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 4:19 pm

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

It will be a fun fight to watch Dirk and KD battling it out for a few games.  The Thunder need to make someone other than Dirk, JJ, or Jet beat them,,, if they get the ball out of their hands and the Mavs still win then I got no problems.  Westbrook eeds to find a managable game plan that can allow him to hit those extra buckets that would have made a 9 point game a little tighter or maybe even a lead, instead of going ice cold from 15 feet.  I am not cracking the Mavs, until we got our team I was a lifelong Mavs fan, and if they do beat us I want them to win it all, but until then THUNDER UP!

Since: Jan 7, 2011
Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:43 pm

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

As a Mavs fan, having your superstar have a night like Dirk had and still have the gaem in question late?  That is concerning.  I thought the Mavs defense would play better and they will.  They have shaken off the rust and I expect a better performance from their defense in game 2.  That being said, I am not sure what answer the Thunder are going to come up with to stop Dirk.  To be quite honest I though the defense they played was in very good position and they did what they could to challenge his shot, but face it, you can't stop that kind of talent.  I do not in my wildest dreams think that Dirk, or for that matter Durant, can duplicate their performances.  But if you double Dirk he will find the open guy on the perimeter, if you crowd him he'll go around you and if you challenge him to take a "Dirk" shot he will and chances are he'll make the darned thing. I think the Mavs are simply a better team with more experience, the Thunder are young and they have to play these games to get the experience, there is no short cut to experience.  That coupled with the Mavs desperate mind set and their determination not to losw focus add up to problems for the Thunder, big problems.  I still see the Mavs taking this in 5 or 6 but I expect the series will be very entertaining as was last nights classic.  Go Mavs!!!

Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 11:13 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

I understand your concern and can somewhat agree with you, but the team chemistry right now is off the charts.  They know what's at stake and they understand that they aren't getting any younger.  This Mavs team is leaps and bounds better than the '06 squad.  All of the pieces have finally come together to form this 2011 Mavs team.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Mavs take this series in 5, as long as they keep playing the way they did from the second quarter on.  They're hungry and desperation is a real beeyotch.  And more often than not, the desperate teams achieve more.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 11:10 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

And by the way,, officiating goes both ways, anyone saying different really never played the game.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 11:07 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

Nothing but congrats on the first game Mavs.  The upside for OKC is fine, Dirk will play good all series, however I doubt that we will be that hot again,,, He was record setting hot last night, to a place he has never been statistically before in his carear.  He misses 3 shots and Westbrook makes 3 more and we win, its pretty simple.... they made more shot, tip your cap and move on to game 2.  Are higher seeded teams supposed to win in their own house in the playoffs?  OKC needs to continue to try and steal one or two and hold home court, possibly thow a net over a 5'8" point guard, the Mavs hit every shot they looked at, but really no brain surgery involved.

Since: Nov 7, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2011 10:55 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

Officiating was bad both ways.  Take that out of the equation... it cancelled itself out.  I am a mavs fan and happy with the win.  But I'm glad to see one article on this site include a little realism.  The mavs were great.  The only mavs player who didn't "get his" was peja.  Everyone else had great games meeting or exceeding their typical contribution potential.  That is a concern.  As great as the mavs were, as unstoppable as dirk was, and as lost as OKC looked at times, it was a fairly close game in the final couple of minutes.  At the start of the playoffs, I thought OKC was in position to take the west (although I thought it would be thru Spurs and Lakers).  I am ecstatic about the fact that the mavs are in it and playing great ball.  But this series is far from over.  I sincerely hope this doesn't happen, but I could easily see the mavs taking a snooze and losing one or two, getting desperate, lose their rhythm, and get bumped by the thunder. 

Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 10:12 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

"It doesn't seem like Dirk will be able to duplicate this sort of game again."  Obviously you haven't been watching the last seven games.  Dirk is unstoppable one on one.  Double team him and you open up the perimeter.  Pick your poison.  

Since: Nov 7, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:48 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

"this game would've been over in the first"

Spoken like a true fool.

The Mavs won.  Congrats.  Why all the whining by Mavs fans?????

Since: Jan 21, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:15 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

The Thunder played no defense. Durant can get his and Westbrook is a great athlete but very streaky. The Mavericks offensive execution was amazing and J J Barea made them look silly. GO MAVS!!

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 7:37 am

The Thunder gets Dirk'd but it's not all bad

Are you serious?

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