The Thunder have an authority problem. Or at least a pecking order problem. They don’t know who to rely on in crunch time. I don’t know if this is because Kevin Durant is such a nice guy that he’d never demand the ball or if coach Scott Brooks allows his team to choose on the floor the best plan of attack. Either way it’s not good. With minutes left to go in the game and the Thunder barely clinging to a two point lead back up point guard Eric Maynor waved everyone off and jacked up an ill advised jumper with the shot clock expiring. This lead directly to an OKC turnover. With Westbrook, Durant, and Harden on the floor there is no excuse for that. The Thunder have that problem and an apparent inability to execute anything in the fourth quarter. They run the pick and roll all day with a general degree of success and then in the fourth they begin to run iso plays for Kevin Durant. Why? This isn’t playing to the team’s strengths at all and it was Westbrook with the hot hand this game, not Durant.
I picked the Thunder to win this series in seven games and I just realized something. I have picked against the Mavs every step of the way. This wasn’t smart at all. I think the telling stat about this Dallas team is that they can play well in the fourth quarter. They ranked 6th in the league in fourth quarter points, with an average of 25.2 points per fourth quarter. The Thunder didn’t help themselves with silly turnovers. The kind of silly turnovers that only a young team can make in crucial situations.
Both Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points. This is the second game in a row that the Mavs have won the game and been out rebounded. Dallas was able to score more efficiently. Shawn Marion took advantage of the focus on Dirk and made big plays on both ends of the floor all game long. He was aggressive. He got to the rim and free throw line. Dallas can beat a team in a number of ways and this makes them abundantly dangerous. If I pick against Dallas again I could end up looking very, very, stupid.
What I like most about this game is that it showed how much the Thunder still have to learn. Dirk let the game come to him and deferred to his teammates when necessary. I think Durant can learn from that. He still tries to force things and it causes him to make bad plays. Westbrook also tries to force things and isn’t nearly the facilitator he needs to be. James Harden is probably the most polished Thunder player. Great effort from OKC but they have a long ways to go. They may even have to go through some of the heartbreak that the Mavs went through to get there someday.