The Dallas Mavericks came into Tuesday’s game with eight days of rest since knocking off the defending champ LA Lakers in four games. The Thunder on the other hand, had to turn the corner quickly after just finishing their previous series with Memphis in game 7 on Sunday. Leading up to the game most of the talk centered on the rest vs. rust factor for Dallas and how the youth vs. veteran angle would play out. Dallas has shown its toughness, resiliency and offensive fire power in the playoffs, and they would continue to do so in game 1.
Game 1 was a shootout with two players scoring 40 plus. KD ended with 40 points, getting loose and getting his shots like he is good at. But this one was all about Dirk. All the talk between game 1 and game 2 will be about Dirk, and rightfully so. There has been a lot of talk lately about Dirk, his game and his legacy. Recently Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle had stated that he thought Dirk was a top 10 NBA player of all time. Now, even myself a die hard Mavs fan and Dirk being one of my favorite players of all time, I can’t put him in the top 10. This is besides the point but I would put him on the top 20 all time for sure, the best shooting PF of all time, the best 7 ft shooter of all time, look at his career numbers, the consistency, etc…I could go on for days about Dirk. I’ll write an article just on Dirk at some point in the future. I hear it all the time but its true, no one his size has ever been able to shoot the lights out like Dirk. Dirk scored 48 points on just 15 made FG’s, only missing 3 shots all night! Most of your top scorers in the league would miss 15 FG’s on a 48 point night. But not Dirk. Efficiency is what Dirk is about. It’s what his life long skills coach, Holger Geschwindner, has been preaching to Dirk ever since he discovered a young Dirk. Holger years ago told Dirk that he should be shooting 60% from the field, 50% from 3 and 95% from the free throw line…for the season…every season. It is this type of motivation and these goals that has fueled Dirk’s offensive game over his entire basketball career. Along with Dirk’s great shooting performance from the field, he also excelled from the free throw line in game 1, setting an NBA playoff record going 24-24. An outsider might look at 24 free throws by Dirk and think that Dallas got the benefit of calls in game 1. But, Durant shot 19 and Westbrook 18 free throws respectively and the Thunder shot more than the Mavs as a team. So, throw that out the window.
Dirk, scoring one short of his career playoff high of 50 obviously fueled the Mavs to a win in this one. But what else helped? JJ Barea was a spark off the bench. He reminded me of the Microwave, Vinnie Johnson, with his quick scoring. Only difference was Barea is an energy guy off the dribble using his speed and aggressiveness to get to the cup. He is a shoot first guard but can find the open man when needed. Barea scored 12 straight off the bench for the Mavs at one point in game 1. Simply put the guy has guts. Flat out guts. And you can see why Bynum wanted to put an elbow in his side, he’s just so frustrating to defend. The Mavs defense and Carlisle had a good game plan for the Thunder in game 1 also. The Mavs defense contested every Westbrook drive, contributing to his 3-15 from the field, shooting performance. Westbrook ended with only 3 assists and a team high in turnovers as well. Durant will get his on most nights, but limiting his teammates is key to beating the Thunder.
It’s obvious that the Mavs need to keep the intensity up and their minds right if they want to keep rolling in the playoffs.
Game 2. Thursday. Dallas.
About the Author
Written by Andy R Strom
I was born in Dallas, TX and raised in the suburb of Coppell, TX. I grew up eating and breathing sports. I "buy local" when it comes to my teams, Mavs, Cowboys, Rangers, Stars, Longhorns. I am 28 years old and currently live in Wisconsin where I graduated college from the Univerisy of Wisonsin Whitewater with a degree in health, human performance and recreation with a minor in coaching. I still follow my teams just as much now as when I am living back in Texas, they're just a little harder to see in person now. However, I follow all major sports and teams and love a good debate.