We once again check in with SB Nation's great Mavericks site, Mavs Moneyball. We previously had done a series scouting report, and this time around we want to get a flavor of how Mavs fans feel that the series is going and what is to come. This time out, we're joined by Lisa Rotter who was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Lisa also asked me some questions about the Thunder, so if you care to read my responses, you can find them here.
If you would like read their series scouting report, you can find that here.
Let's jump in with the questions.
1. What did you think was the biggest adjustment that the Thunder made to slow down Dirk? Likewise, what was the biggest adjustment the Mavs made to limit Durant?
Well, there were certainly double teams that got both players out of their comfort zones and limited their shot selection, but I also think part of the reason neither star scored in the 40s this game was simple regression towards the mean- the odds of Nowitzki and Durant both having such incredible games twice in a row were simply too small.
Case in point: Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. I wouldn't exactly call that slowing him down. And while Durant didn't have as big of a fourth quarter, he still led his team in scoring for the game.
That being said, I think both teams realized that, if you don't respect Nowitzki and Durant and treat them as if they can score on every possession, they will in fact score on every possession. What killed the Mavs in this game was that they respected Durant and in doing so, neglected the rest of the team. They left DeShawn Stevenson on Durant, and Stevenson did a great job of frustrating him into giving up the ball. The problem was that the players to whom he gave the ball did an excellent job of scoring. Which takes me to your next question-
2. Do you think that this series is going to continue to hinge on which bench plays the best?
Yes. I think that because our two superstars are so very similar, and our point guards aren't consistent scorers, and our big men aren't focused as much on offense (run-on sentence alert) I think that the winner of each game will be determined by which team's bench came to play. The only other playoff game in which the Dallas bench was outscored was their surprising loss to the Trail Blazers when Brandon Roy had his resurgence. As the Dallas bench goes, so the Dallas team goes.
So yeah, I think this series will come down to the riders of the pine.
3. What is the biggest single adjustment the Mavs will need to make to reclaim home court advantage?
Defense, defense, defense. The Mavericks were all asked what happened in the game and most of them hinted at not giving the Thunder enough respect. They got comfortable. They had won seven playoff games in a row and were feeling confident. There's a reason that Oklahoma City is in the Western Conference Finals. They are GOOD at basketball. Treating them as such would be a good first step towards reclaiming momentum.
On the plus side, Dallas tied Miami for the best road record in the NBA this year. They don't feel like they've lost home court advantage just yet, because they can and likely will get at least one win on the road. Now that they've seen just how well the Thunder can beat them, I assure you the Mavericks will come out with more defensive intensity, and they wont let the hostile crowd hinder them. They already figured out a decent way to guard Durant (Stevenson, as I mentioned) and now they've got to find stoppers for the likes of Harden and Maynor and they'll be just fine. Psh, I say that like I know. These are just my hopes and dreams...
Much thanks to Mavs Moneyball for addressing our questions, and we will do our best to check in with them as the series progresses.