The Thunder, struggling mightily on offense throughout the night against the Dallas defense, seemed prime to be upset on their own court. The problem was not just the fact that their stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were missing shots, but rather the types of shots they were missing. One of the reasons why the Mavericks' defense is so good yet often overlooked is that, apart from the underrated Shawn Marion, they do not have the prototypical "shut-down guy" like a LeBron James or Tony Allen. Instead, they game-plan exhaustively against their opponents, have an innate understanding of how other teams and players are going to try to score on them, and then work in unison to make it seem like they're yielding. In reality though, they are not yielding, but rather are maneuvering their opponent in order to execute a Judo toss.
The Mavericks' greatest defensive strength against the Thunder is manipulating OKC into taking shots that Dallas wants them to take, rather than allow the Thunder to take the shots they really want to take. What makes it all so clever though is that the Dallas D makes it seem to OKC like their offense is working, but before you know it, Durant and Westbrook are shooting a combined 12-38 and wondering how an inferior Mavs team is leading them with under three minutes to go.
And yet with all that said, OKC still figured out how to win in the end. It was the Thunder team at its most steadfast, and it is a game they would have lost a season ago.