OKC Thunder (3-0, 1-0 road) at Dallas Mavericks (0-3, 0-1 home)
Thunder lead series 3-0
View from the enemy: The Two Man Game
Closing, is hard to do. There’s no more difficult a win to get than that fourth one, especially when it comes on the road. The Thunder had this shot last season in Denver, and came up just short. And to me, that’s why it’s kind of important to get this done. I think it would show another step in the maturity, another move ahead for this team to get its first sweep.
Of course, the Mavs are going to pull out all the stops in this one. They’re probably going to play rough, physical and try and get under OKC’s skin. They’re going to try and use everything they’ve got in the bag. Dirk isn’t going to go quietly. Jason Terry, definitely isn’t going to go quietly. Here’s the junk he’s already talking: “I broke every broom in the house, so that’s a little superstition so I don’t think there will be any sweeps going on … The pressure is on them all the way. They’re kind of young. They might not realize it, but it’s there, and hopefully they’ll feel it during the game because it’s hard to close a team out. And then if you do lose, then what? Now you start to think about it a little bit. Not a situation (down 3-0) we want to be in, but we’ll take it at this point.”
Terry is as obnoxious and arrogant as anyone, but he has a point. You don’t want to open any doors. You don’t even want to let them knock. There’s a chance to snuff it out right now, to finish it, to close this down. The Mavs have a long road back, but it’s not impossible. Winning two in Dallas is a difficult assignment and the odds will be high OKC takes care of this at home, but why go there. Wrap it up.
Three Big Things
1. Early progress. A good first quarter could be all OKC needs. With the dominance showcased in the last game along with the 3-0 mountain the Mavs have to climb, a big opening 12 minutes might encourage Dallas to pack it in. The Mavs looked tired and worn in Game 3. So you can imagine how they’ll feel if they’re down 10 after a quarter.
2. Defense is our backbone. Both Dirk and Terry are going to fire away. They’re going to throw caution to the wind and try and carry the Mavs. It’s clear Dallas is a weak offensive team unless their two scorers are scoring. Shawn Marion can get some garbage baskets, Ian Mahinmi is a high energy guy and Delonte West and Jason Kidd are obviously threats at times. But the majority of the Maverick production will come from Dirk and Terry. The Thunder are incredibly difficult to beat when the offense is rolling, but that’s not a guarantee OKC’s defensive effort has been sound in this series, and it needs to be there again in case KD and Westbrook aren’t dominant.
3. Find The Beard. James Harden wasn’t all that excellent in Game 3. He didn’t need to be, but when the Thunder’s offense is diversified with Harden, it makes OKC that much more dangerous.
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go Brooms.