Rapid Fire: Thunder Cruise in Game 1 Blowout of Dallas
1. With the regular-season grind over, the sixth-seed Dallas Mavericks began their playoff campaign in the not-so-friendly confines of Chesapeake Energy Arena against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the third-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. After a tumultuous offseason, the Mavs set a goal at the start of the year to make the playoffs and after reaching that goal, were able to start fresh with the playoff stretch beginning.
But things just went un-fresh.
Unfortunately for Dallas, OKC was on a mission in this one, and the Mavs seemed to be just another obstacle in their way, as the Thunder cruised to a 108-70 win in Game 1.
"We just have to show pride,'' said iconic Mav Dirk Nowitzki. "We obviously got embarrassed.''
2. The resiliency of this year’s Mavs team in the final weeks of the season was remarkable. They dug themselves out of a quicksandy muck, in which they seemed to be destined for a disappointing end. Granted, none of that guaranteed a thing against a team like OKC, but the Mavs' reinvention of themselves has given them at least a fighting chance to make some noise in Round 1. Obviously that didn’t happen here in Saturday's Game 1, but it doesn’t depreciate the value of what the Mavs did over the last 10 games of the season.
3. The first quarter was an absolute disaster for the Mavs, who shot just 20 percent from the field, and were torched on the boards 19-8 by the Thunder. Dirk led the Mavs with just four points in the quarter, while Kevin Durant was four-of-six from the field with nine points for Oklahoma City. Dallas trailed 26-11 at the end of the open quarter, with the Thunder looking to take the Mavs out of things very early on in this contest.
4. Adding to the ugliness, at least for this observer? I’m not one to complain about uniforms too often, save for a couple of occasions. That being said, the NBA seriously needs to do away with the long-sleeved jerseys. They are an absolute abomination to the game of basketball. It’s great that the Mavs haven’t lowered themselves to the depths that some of these teams have in the name of a fashion statement, and one can only hope that the NBA will see the error of their ways sooner, rather than later.
Or maybe I'm just in a foul mood after having to sit through this one ...
5. Oklahoma City is a very tough team to match up against. Their length and athleticism caused the Mavs fits early on, especially in the paint. The absence of Chandler Parsons on both ends of the floor is a big blow to the Mavs chances, with him being one of their longest, and most versatile options on both offense and defense.
6. David Lee’s presence surely would have been beneficial to the Mavs as well, considering his impact on the boards and the energy that he brings to the team on both ends. Without Lee (foot), the Mavs were absolutely dominated on the glass by OKC, and had even less success generating offense in the paint either. For the Mavs sake, Lee will hopefully be able to make a quick recovery, and give the Mavs some help in both of those areas.
Ah, but there will be no help from the Injury Gods. Fish and Skin Wade, speaking on 105.3 The Fan on Sunday morning, suggested that J.J. Barea's groin problem might prevent him from playing in Game 2, and that Deron Williams' injury problems flared up sometime after the first quarter, limiting him in Game 1 and possibly beyond.
7. The second quarter was equally disastrous for Dallas, as Dirk was just about the only guy the Mavs could count on to generate any kind of offense in the first half. He was the only player to make more than a single field goal through the majority of the half, with the team shooting under 20 percent in the first 24 minutes of game time. KD and Westbrook, on the other hand, combined for 31 points, and were outscoring the Mavs on their own until the final minute of the second quarter. Trailing 59-33 headed into halftime, the Mavs hopes were seriously in trouble for the rest of the game.
8. The Thunder have a supremely talent roster from top to bottom, even without uperstar Kevin Durant on the floor. Durant is one of the most offensively gifted players in the NBA, and Serge Ibaka is a freak in his own right. They have the ability to match with anybody team in the NBA when healthy, which frankly has been their biggest issue over the last few seasons. If this team can get and stay healthy through this playoff run, Golden State and San Antonio might just get threatened ...
9. Speaking of Westbrook, that cat can flat-out score the basketball. He gets to the rim almost at will, and has a good enough outside shot to keep defenses honest. Westbrook is arguably one of the best athletes to ever grace a basketball court in the NBA, and he is downright scary with the ball in his hands. If he gets a running start, you better get out of his way, or you might end up on a poster on someone’s wall one of these days.
And yet Dallas needs an answer here. Maybe more Justin Anderson? That was Fish's radio offering, with this logic: "As a rookie, maybe he's unaware that he's not supposed to be good enough to guard Westy.''
Not the most ringing endorsement. But you think Rick has a better idea?
We'll see more Anderson in Game 2.
10. It's sad to see Dirk in this kind of situation. At 37 years old, he has put 17 years of blood, sweat and tears into this franchise, and a cynic would suggest he has been rewarded with a pay cut and a mediocre supporting cast in his twilight years. Would DeAndre Jordan have changed things? Maybe, but the believe remains in some quarters that the front office -- despite all efforts -- has not done nearly enough to put Dirk in a position to contend at this point in his career.
11. Well, that escalated quickly… The third quarter was the worst of the lot, with the Mavs being outscored by OKC 34-16, and shooting just 29 percent from the field up to that point. Dallas would trail by 42 points heading into the fourth quarter, with KD and Westbrook resting on the bench for the rest of the game.
12. Ultimately, the Mavs were just outclassed in every aspect of this game. Injuries aside, this team was outmatched at every position on the floor from start to finish, and it obviously showed. The good thing about playoff basketball, is that whether you lose by one of lose by 38, you have the opportunity to throw that loss in the trash and try and make up for it in the next game. "Flush it,'' as Carlisle would say.
Will the Mavs get blown out this badly in Game 2 and beyond? Who knows, but you can bet that Carlisle will do everything in his power to find a way to keep that from happening if he can. ... even with limited "power'' at his disposal.
This game was over when... It started. The Thunder came out like sharks smelling blood in the water and never looked back. After last year’s disappointment, OKC is hungry for redemption. The Mavs just have the unfortunate pleasure of being in their way right now.
"I guess the only positive I take out of this,'' Dirk said, "is it's only one game.''
Stats of the night… Abysmal Shooting. The Mavs shot just 29.8 percent from the field, four-of-18 from three and 61.5 percent from the line. Against a team like OKC, that kind of poor shooting performance just can’t happen.
Paint Domination. Oklahoma City dominated the glass, outrebounding the Mavs 56-33, including 14 offensive rebounds on the night. Oklahoma City also outscored Dallas 34-28 in the paint. The Mavs even went to Javale McGee at one point to try and stop the bleeding, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Should have seen coming... The Westbrook and Durant combo. This scoring combination is right up there with the best in the league, and Saturday was proof that it very well might be the best of the bunch.
Couldn't see coming... This kind of loss. We knew that OKC was a better team than Dallas coming into this series. What we didn’t know is that they were going to come out and abuse the Mavs in quite this manner. Before this series started I predicted OKC in 5, but now it’s hard to make the argument for the Mavs to win a single game.
What's next?: The Mavs will stay in OKC and get ready for Game 2 of the series, which will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Final Word: "I've got to get these guys better prepared to play. That's pretty clear. ... We were not the team we've been in the last two-and-a-half weeks. ... I've got to do a better job of getting them ready for Game 2.'' -- Rick Carlisle.