Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals was one with a lot of excitement late…or early…depending on who you were rooting for. The Mavs pretty much looked to be showing their age early in the game, but always managed to keep it just close enough. My father, who lives back in my hometown in Texas is an avid sports fan and will call me often when our teams play. He’s a bit of a worrier and made his first call before the end of the first quarter. He was concerned and not liking what he was seeing. I didn’t like what I was seeing either, a Maverick team that was looking old and slow, not putting a body on people, not boxing out and so on. It led to a lot of Thunder points early in game 4, and easy points at that. The Thunder started out 9 of 9 from the field before their first miss. But the Mavs never let that lead grow too big. But I reassured him that there was plenty of time with my usual, “Look, they are getting out played that bad and they are only down that much.” He gave his usual reply of, “ok, ok.” And we hung up the phone.
The second call came at halftime and even though the Mavs had cut the lead down significantly going into the half, he was still concerned. I just repeated, there’s time. The NBA is a league of runs. Teams go on runs and give up runs every game. One of the biggest things that a successful NBA team can do is to try and weather or manage those runs when they are happening to them. The Mavs were getting killed on the glass and were making many uncharacteristic plays. But the Mavs were doing a few things well. Shawn Marion was playing outstanding on the defensive end, playing Durant physical, forcing him off his spots and away from the hoop. Durant’s game is at its best in transition and when shooting coming off picks and cuts. He is not at his strongest when creating for himself, and it’s something that I’m sure that he will master with hard work and experience, but right now it needs improvement.
The last call from my father came in the third quarter and he was not impressed with the Mavs performance still. He didn’t say much, just that he’d try and stay up with them till the end. Which usually means that he’ll fall asleep watching it in the living room. The third quarter and up until the 5 minute mark of the fourth everything was pretty much going the same. Durant had just hit a 3 pointer to put the Thunder up by 15. James Harden picked up his sixth and fouled out with 4:45 left and things started to change. The Mavs started to chip away at the lead quickly and leading the march was none other than the fearless leader of the Mavs nation, Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk outscored the Thunder 12-2 just himself of the Mavs final 17 points. Kidd also hit a big 3 pointer from the corner giving a closing out Westbrook a pump fake to get the shot off. The Thunder then began to hang their heads and look lost on the court, which was a reversal of roles for the Mavs in some years past. Even with the last shot the Thunder were unable to do anything well, they couldn’t even get good spacing, with Westbrook right near Durant allowing three defenders to be in the vicinity of the shot. Durant pulled up for about a 30 footer, Marion got a hand on the ball sending it into the hands of Jason Kidd…who then is smart enough to call a timeout giving the Mavs the last shot.
Even though it turned out to be a failed attempt, still a very heads up play by Kidd. The Mavs had then taken everything from the Thunder they could possibly have taken other than their girlfriends by the end of regulation and took the game away in OT. It was a great feeling to watch a comeback like that by the Mavs, especially since I have been on the other end of a couple of those comebacks. *cough, Portland, cough* Dirk ended with 40 points for the game and the series goes back to Dallas for game 5 on Wednesday, with Dallas holding a 3-1 series lead.
Oh, and my Father did fall asleep…missed the entire comeback. It’s ok, I can replay it for him over and over in my mind…
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.