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Oklahoma City Thunder vs Dallas Mavericks: 2011 Conference Finals Game 2 Preview: Adjustments Needed

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Records: The Dallas Mavericks (57-25) vs The Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)

Series: Game 1 (Mavs lead 1-0)

Time: 8:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

TV: ESPN

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN 103.3 KESN-FM

Enemy Blog(s): Mavs Moneyball, The Two Man Game

Let me step aside for a moment (because I couldn't possibly add any more opinion than what is already out there) and let the players and coaches speak about what is to come next.

"There were nine shots that he made, no matter what you did, you couldn't have guarded him any better. We put smalls (on him), we put medium-sized guys on him, we put big guys on him, we put everybody on him. We tried to take it out of his hands. The only thing we didn't do was not guard him...Maybe tomorrow night..." - Scott Brooks on you-know-who

"Whatever comes, comes...I'm going to try to attack like I always do. If it's not there, I can swing it, pick and roll. We've got a lot of options out there. We have a deep bench. So I don't feel the pressure to force shots, and that's the good thing about this team." - Dirk Nowitzki

"That's one thing about this team, we're resilient, we bounce back" - Kevin Durant

"If we get in offensive shootouts with this team, that's not our game. We have to defend a lot better." - Rick Carlisle

"Personally, I'm looking forward to a new group of referees" - Thabo Sefolosha

"When they went small, I knew they only had one big guy. If I get by that big guy, I'm clear to the rim, so I don't have to deal with anything like Portland with (Marcus) Camby and them. So I just enjoy it." - Jose Barea

"Kevin was good offensively. He had a nice rhythm going and he was attacking the basket. His jump shot was falling and he was making plays. I don’t know how many assists he had tonight, but I felt he was passing the ball very well. Russell missed some shots. He's going to come back better. He was attacking the basket, and that's what we want Russell to do." - Scott Brooks

"They have a lot of pride in their ability to guard people. There will be an adjustment. They're going to do what they have to do." - Rick Carlisle

"He don't like me and I don't like him. That's pretty much how it's been. Everybody always looks at me as kind of a dirty player, if you're on the opposite team. But he's just as dirty as anybody else." Kendrick Perkins on Tyson Chandler

"No, there's no history at all...I have nothing against him. He won a championship with the Boston Celtics... I've got respect for him. The chippy stuff and after the ball stuff, that's nonsense and I'm not going to do that." - Tyson Chandler on Kendrick Perkins

***

Ok, a few comments:

  • The Thunder's advantage in this series lies in their defense. Neither team played defense all that well in Game One, but the Thunder have more tools at their disposal to make a defensive impact. Their advantage lies in their front line, in defending the post and filtering ball handlers into Serge Ibaka's realm. That frees up the perimeter defenders to play the passing lanes and challenge the shooters.
  • Russell Westbrook has to look to take with confidence the easy shots he's being given. They're right in front of the rim. He's got to knock those down like Steve Nash or Tony Parker.
  • Tyson Chandler is supercharged, but I don't think any of the other Mavericks like to bang on the inside. OKC needs to use its front line depth to make the Dallas front line more of a factor, either by drawing fouls or making them offensive options.
  • James Harden played solid if unspectacular, but his second unit lost badly to Dallas' bench. They must not be outscored so drastically. Eric Maynor in particular has to be ready to hit open jumpers.
  • Look at the last box score. There were three quarters where the Thunder allowed over 30 points. Those middle two quarters in particular are what hurt OKC the most. Those need to drop by around 10 points each if the Thunder are going to have a chance to steal Game Two.

Prediction: A much lower scoring game. That's all I'm going to predict.