Game One is over, and remember, it was only one game. Tonight the Thunder get a renewed shot at stealing home court. As demoralizing as it was to watch Dirk Nowitzki post one of the greatest single performances in post-season history, the fact remains that late in the 4th quarter, the Thunder were a mere two possessions away from tying the Mavs. Despite the odds being against the Thunder, they never gave up the fight. Remember, it only takes one win to change the momentum.
While there have been a few lows in Kevin Durant's post season (Game Six), for the most part he has answer the call as a superstar should. It is important to note too that he's working on doing all of the little things as well as scoring, and that should propel the Thunder to some wins.
Young puts forth some solid ideas on how to better defend Dirk. Fouling him less is mandatory at this point, but I think also the Thunder need to do a better job denying the ball to him. There are only about 18 seconds to work with in a given possession; if the Thunder can make the Mavs look away from Dirk because of defensive pressure, it will force the ball away from Dirk as the shot clock runs out.
Here is a pretty fair assessment of both the Mavs' and Thunder's performances. They're fearful that Westbrook is going to figure it out soon; I think I agree. However, the biggest problem that I see is that the Thunder bench got outscored by a single guy (Jason Terry).
Mahoney writes at his Mavericks blog about the difference between Kevin Durant and Dirk at the respective points in their careers. The difference, I think, can be summed up thus- it is the difference between an offense flowing TO a player (Durant) and an offense flowing THROUGH a player (Dirk).
The Mavs seem to be using more of a defensive philosophy than a style in working to guard Russell Westbrook. They kept giving him an inch hoping he would want to take a yard.
More links after the jump.
Kevin will always keep us guessing, but Dan Devine offers his own assessment.
The boys answer a few playoff questions, starting with a couple good ones about the Thunder and Mavericks.
I missed this earlier, but the Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute provides a really good analysis of the key players in the playoffs. One thing he notes about Dirk - play him for the drive.
Here is an examination of the influence of the recent advent of talented point guards on the league. Through the application of their wins produced metric, they calculate whether the league has become obsessed with the little guy on the court.
I would tend to agree with the writer here, but it has more to do with the fact that everybody in this franchise is young and inexperienced. A lot of these situations and scenarios are completely new, so everyone is navigating through uncharted waters.
Sam Presti continues to orchestrate the team behind the veil, and at front and center is the two man dynamic that everybody is watching with a microscope.
Here is a good look at Ron Artest's career arc, which culminated with him winning the NBA's citizenship award.