The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly returned to the NBA playoffs with a bang as they overwhelmed the Dallas Mavericks, taking Game 1 by a score of 108-70 on Saturday night.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant kicked things off for the Thunder by outscoring the Mavericks 14-11, and combining for five rebounds, four assists and a steal. They led 26-11 heading into the second, but you got the feeling it could have been much worse had Oklahoma City not turned it over six times over the first 12 minutes.
Durant’s pull-up three on the break pushed the lead out to 21 about midway through the second quarter and it only got worse for the Mavericks as others like Serge Ibaka also knocked one down in transition and Westbrook contributed one of his own as well.
OKC’s defense spent the bulk of the half swarming and switching all around the perimeter on defense and on the rare occasions where the communication or a rotation broke down, the Mavericks still found it difficult to score.
Ibaka was active around the rim on the defensive end as he racked up three blocks in the first half alone and altered or influenced several others.
It was more of the same formula in the second half, but the rest of the Thunder also got into the act as the team actually built a 44 point lead at one point. Kanter contributed 16 points and 13 rebounds (7-10 FGs) off the bench. The rest of OKC’s reserves actually struggled from the field (5-23 FGs), but they were able to still extend the lead by maintaining the defensive intensity of the first half.
If the Mavericks want any shot at winning a game in this series, then Wesley Matthews, J.J. Barea and Deron Williams are going to have to provide a much more than their combined 5-25 shooting from the field and lackluster all-around effort. Barea aggravated his groin and missed the bulk of the second half, and his status for Game 2 is unknown at this time. Dirk Nowitzki provided his regular season average of 18 points, but Dallas is going to be on vacation within a week’s time if he’s their only double-figure scorer moving forward as he was in the series opener.
Game 2 is Monday night (8 p.m. EST) in Oklahoma City once again, but if these Mavericks aren’t able to find a way to get collectively hot (25-84 from the field, 4-18 on threes in the opener) and manage to do a better job of defending (no blocks, plus OKC made 12 threes), then we may be in for another rough one on Monday night.
Prediction: Thunder win Game 2.
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