1. The Mavs entered game five on the brink of elimination, with five players down, as well as Dirk and J.J. Barea hobbled. It would be a tall mountain to climb for the ‘Masking-Tape Mavs,'' especially against a vastly more talented Oklahoma City bunch anxious to put its own mark on this year’s playoffs. The Mavs would put up a valiant fight, especially through the first three quarters, but would ultimately fall to the Thunder 118-104, ending their season in yet another first-round defeat.
"If I'm a Mavericks fan, I couldn't be prouder of this group of guys,'' said coach Rick Carlisle.
2. in the final minute of the first quarter, Dirk Nowitzki hit a turn around jumper over Nick Collison to move into 14th place all-time in playoff scoring, surpassing Scottie Pippen in the process. Ah, just another bullet point on his Hall-of-Fame resume.
3. The first quarter was a tough one for Our Boys In Blue, with Oklahoma City outscoring the Mavs 35-24 behind 13 points from Russell Westbrook. The downtrodden Mavs were led by The Uberman, who notched seven points of his own. The Mavs would shoot 52.6 percent from the floor, while OKC shot closer to 60 percent, including shooting three of five from beyond the arc.
4. Whatever else happens this offseason, the Mavs must take a serious look at bringing back Raymond Felton next season. He has been invaluable to this roster since day one of this season, and continued that through the Mavs short playoff run. Without Felton, the Mavs would have truly been lost this season. His leadership and clutch play has earned him a chance to continue to produce for Dallas going into next year.
5. The Mavs were able to punch a dent into OKC’s lead in the second quarter, after exploding for 37 points in the frame. Dirk and Zaza Pachulia would combine for 18 points, with Zaza also contributing seven assists in the process. The Mavs defense would continue to struggle however, allowing the Thunder to score 33 points of their own, including 13 from Kevin Durant.
6. Despite the amount of adversity that the Mavs faced in this series, the Big German continued to compete to the very end. At 37 years young, Dirk keeps proving that he is still capable of being an extremely danger offensive force in this league. In perhaps his final playoff appearance -- Fish hates that we say that but it might be true! -- Dirk ended the game with 24, while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Said Dirk: "I'm proud of the guys. We gave it all we had."
And, hey, listen, Carlisle is actually taking seriously the possibility of Dirk hanging 'em up altogether. Nowitzki has consistently said otherwise (he has a player option for one more year), but it makes sense to make damn sure you "court'' this guy as vigorously as anybody.
Said Rick, vowing to fly to Germany for recruitment if needed: "We've got to hope this isn't Dirk's last game as a Maverick. I think he'll be back but I don't want anybody to take it for granted.''
7. Say what you want about Zaza’s play over the second half of the season, but Monday night he came to compete. Zaza was active on the boards, scoring when asked, and even facilitating, scoring 12 points, securing seven rebounds, and contributing nine assists. Maybe it was his overexertion in the first half of the season, or maybe his sore Achilles problems slowed him down. Either way, he gave it his all here, and it helped the Mavs stay in it for as long as they did.
8. Russell Westbrook is an absolute freak of nature. Of all the point guards in the history of this game, Russell might just rank among the most athletically gifted we have ever seen. His speed, leaping ability and strength are so unique for the position, that it is nearly impossible to match him up on the defensive end. Add Kevin Durant to the mix, and Westbrook is often single-covered, and attacking the lane at will. Here, Westbrook scored 36 points, grabbed 12 off the glass, and dished out nine assists. Sorry, Cubes, but your comments aside, he is most definitely a superstar in this league.
"I think he's an All-Star but not a superstar," Cuban said before the game, saying that KD is OKC's lone such player. "So for (11) years when Dirk won 50, that's a superstar. There are only a few guys where you can put them on any team and they win 50 games. To me, that's the definition of a superstar."
OK but ... as Fish suggests here ...
... I think Mark Cuban already knows some truths that conflict with his bold statement.
9. The Mavs did their best to keep up with the Oklahoma City onslaught in the third quarter, and actually did a pretty decent job. OKC would win the frame, outscoring the Mavs 25-22, and taking a 10-point lead into the final quarter of the series. Durant and Westbrook would combine for 49 points through the first three periods, including 10 from Westbrook in the third. Dirk was held to just one field goal in the quarter, while Wes Matthews and Justin Anderson had five points a piece.
10. The Mavs got some help from the young guns. Dwight Powell combined for 30 points and 13 boards, and made a handful of pretty big plays on Monday. Anderson has seemingly cemented himself for the Mavs future, but Powell’s future is a bit more in question. Either way, both of the young cats on this roster gave the shorthanded Mavs a fighting chance to extend this series.
"The last 30 games, Anderson really stepped up and was not only a factor but a big factor,'' Carlisle said.
11. The Mavs made OKC sweat a bit in the final quarter, but ended up going cold in the final three minutes, allowing OKC to take advantage and put this series on ice. Too much Westbrook and not enough Dirk would ultimately doom Dallas, as they just couldn’t keep up with the Thunder offensive attack down the final stretch. OKC would advance to the Western Conference Semifinals with a 118-104, ending the Mavs season in the process.
12. Frankly, the Thunder are what an NBA playoff team is supposed to look like. Young, athletic, talented, and built from the bottom up from the Draft. For all of the Mavs success in the last 16 years, the front office should take note of what Oklahoma City’s has done since drafting Kevin Durant in 2007. Yes, the Mavs won a title, primarily using the ‘mercenary’ method with free agents, but since that time, the Mavs have been unable to replicate that success, and I say they are truly in danger of slipping into the NBA’s basement if they aren’t careful.
Outside of Justin Anderson - who engaged in some rough play here - there is little hope in youth for the future. And with Dirk nearing the end of his career, Wes Matthews a different player, and the rest of the roster up in the air, one has to wonder -where will the Mavs go from here?
Don't worry as it regards DB.com. That question is the life's work of Fish and David Lord. We'll be all over it.
Stat(s) of the night: Winning inside. The Mavs were trounced inside on both fronts here, with OKC winning the battle in the paint 42-32 and winning the glass 42-35.
Efficiency. Oklahoma City was efficient, turning the ball over just eight times while accumulating 19 assists.
This game was over when... The Mavs went cold in the fourth. Dallas couldn’t sustain its offensive game late, which would ultimately doom them down the final stretch.
Should have seen coming... Westbrook and Durant. The dup would torch the Mavs for a combined 69 points, while Westbrook would add a near triple-double with 36 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
Couldn't see coming... The Mavs fighting until the end. Despite the odds being stacked in OKC’s favor, the Mavs put up a hell of a fight in this one. Considering their injuries, the Mavs really had no business winning a single game in this series, but they managed to make some of this series and certainly this farewell game as difficult for the Thunder as they possibly could.
The Final Word: ""We pride ourselves on competing for championships. But when you do your best ... that's something you're able to live with. ... Mavs Nation has got to be extremely proud of this team.''