Blog Entry

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:51 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 1:11 am
Posted by Royce Young

One Big Thing: What every Thunder fan has been saying the past two days is, "Dirk can't score 48 with just three missed shots again, can he? Right? RIGHT!?!" I think there's some refuge to take in that, but while he might not set NBA records and break efficiency marks, Dirk is entirely capable of once again dominating.

What was lost in that Game 1 is that Dallas revealed it had no plan for Kevin Durant. Depending on perspective, it just appeared that the Mavericks may have caught a break in that Russell Westbrook couldn't finish anything at the rim. Westbrook went just 3-15, but had he shot a normal percentage, the Thunder may have come out the victors and Durant the hero. Funny how it works like that.

The X-Factor: The officiating crew. Here's a funny thing: Two of the officials in Game 1 (Joey Crawford and Zach Zarba) reffed the Thunder's Game 1 against the Grizzlies in which they lost. In that game, OKC was whistled at most any moment it tried to get physical with Zach Randolph. Things changed as that series went on and the play got a lot rougher. Will that happen again? If it does, that plays into the Thunder's favor since OKC's defense is largely built around its physicality.

Dirk drew 16 fouls on seven different Thunder defenders in Game 1. That's got to be fixed and it might simply come down to how the officials see things.

The Adjustment: Not just Dirk, but the Mavs' pick-and-roll offense with J.J. Barea really hurt the Thunder. One reason for it was that OKC's best shotblocker, Serge Ibaka, was pulled out from the basket because he had to guard Dirk. One adjustment the Thunder could make would be to either A) go small with Ibaka at center and Durant at power forward or B) play Nick Collison and Ibaka together and sit Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins isn't a shotblocker and doesn't really rotate well to stop someone at the rim. But if Collison were on Dirk (and Collison is one of the league's best pick-and-roll defenders), Ibaka could hang back and be there to protect the rim. Ibaka is averaging almost five blocks a game in the playoffs and didn't have any in Game 1.

The Sticking Point: Oklahoma City really needs to refocus and steal this game. It's not completely over if the Thunder don't, but a split is always key in winning a series where you don't have home court.

The Mavs though had an offensive rating of 130.1 in Game 1 and an astonishing 139.0 with Dirk on the floor. While it's hard to see Dirk putting up similar numbers in Game 2, you've also got to believe Rick Carlisle and Dallas will have something new for Durant. Game 1 was a lot closer than it felt and looked, but Game 2 could be a total battle.

Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 19, 2011 7:34 pm

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

Two things will happen in game 2. 1 Dirk will rejoin the human race, because he played out of this world. 2 Westbrook will join this series, he couldn't throw a pea in the ocean in game 1. Dirk will have a great game but he won't shoot 24 ft's and he'll miss more than 3 shots. Westbrook has a decided advantage at his position in this series. I think he was a little to amped up in game 1 as alot of his layups just fired of the backboard. He'll settle down this game. Dirk and Durant are unstoppable so they'll get theirs, but if Westbrook dominates his position like he is capable of doing OKC has a good shot at stealing one. If I were coaching OKC I would still play Dirk straight up, you don't want to turn those shooters loose. But they have to play better position defense without fouling. It should be another good one. My prediction OKC behind a near triple double by Westbrook.  

Since: Jul 1, 2009
Posted on: May 19, 2011 5:37 pm

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

Why doesn't OKC just put Durant on Dirk? Oh right...

Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:32 pm

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

The Thunder outrebounded the Mavs and were sent to the line more, too.  And yet, the Mavs still won.  If they aren't the favorite to win it all, I don't know who is.  Dirk is unguardable a player as I've ever seen in this league.  He isn't human.

Since: Sep 19, 2007
Posted on: May 19, 2011 10:02 am

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

How about stop guarding him like you're going to block his shot. Put a hand in his face and pray that he's only human when he releases. Dirk Nowitzki has some unguardable set of moves and teams will have to live with it. Putting him on the foul line after he makes the shot is just plain silly. His one legged Flamingo Fadeaway jumper is a patent move much like Jordan's turnaround fadeaway and Kareem's hook shot, it's simply unstoppable. You have to guard him with intellegence not throw your body at him. Scott Brooks do not have OKC ready for this type of player, much less this type of team.

Since: Feb 1, 2008
Posted on: May 19, 2011 1:17 am

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

The Thunder took more FTs than the Mavs as a team; the Mavs are just better FT shooters. That being said, if officiating stops giving Dirk his FTs, then the many bad calls in favor of the Thunder won't be there either. 

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