Dirk Nowitzki had yet another great night. Not the night from game one but a good night nonetheless. It wouldn’t be enough to stop the Thunder on a night when their bench was their primary source of points. The OKC bench outscored the Dallas bench 50-29. After a rocky third quarter by Russell Westbrook, head coach Scott Brooks opted to go with his bench and Kevin Durant. That decision turned out to be the correct one as the bench was phenomenal. James Harden wanted to put an emphasis on being more aggressive after his game one no-show and boy did he ever. Harden scored 23 points on 6 of 9 shooting. He was able to get to the free throw line where he scored 7 of his points.
Russell Westbrook was two face or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Westbrook started the game making good decisions, moving the basketball and taking good shots. In the third Westbrook came off the rails a little bit and began to play out of control. It’s that potential that Westbrook has to go off the rails that has to be a bit worrisome for Scott Brooks. Eric Maynor came in and did a great job handling the point guard duties. Outside of a few boneheaded plays Maynor was extremely effective.
For Dallas’s Bench Barea and Terry both got limited. That was something that the Thunder needed to take care of if they wanted to win this series. They allowed Barea to score 21 points in game one, and upon making the adjustment only concede 11 points. Jason Terry was heckled out at the three point line was not allowed to score from beyond the arch where he does a fair amount of his damage. The Thunder found something the Lakers never did. They were able to “contain” Dirk while making life difficult for the Mavs shooters. Guarding Dirk on the weak side caused the ball to move across the perimeter in a predictable manner. The youth and speed of the Thunder allowed them to get to the outside and run guys like Terry and Stojakovic off of the line.
The X-Factor of this series is the bench. The starters of both teams are talented enough to score against each other, seemingly at will. The key is going to be whose bench is most effective. I think the Thunder have the most consistent of the two benches. James Harden is the key. If he stays aggressive Dallas will have some trouble keeping pace in this series.