What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Relief. Tonight's game totally different than the one we saw on Saturday. Rather than relying on some late-game heroics, the Thunder relied on sound basketball strategy and some of the steadiest freethrow shooters in the league. Kendrick Perkins went 5/5 from the line tonight. Amazing, amazing stuff.
Matchups seemed to be different. Westbrook was on Terry all game and totally shut him down. Marion played great defense on KD, but this time KD had a terrible shooting night, missing wide open threes. The Mavericks tried to play small and take advantage of what happened in Game 1, but they couldn't capitalize on the Thunder's worse overall defense.
What was tonight's turning point?
With the Thunder down 2 and 6:28 to go in the fourth, Russell Westbrook and Derek Fisher got wide open and hit shots back to back from three. The Thunder gained a four point lead, and the momentum was decidedly in their favor. They gave up the lead again later after a crazy Vince Carter shot with 2:17 to go, but Durant and Harden got to the line, effectively sealing the game.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder won?
Again, we saw guys not named Harden, Westbrook, and Durant step up on offense. Westbrook hardly got any ball movement going and was reduced to his usual mid-range shots, Durant was smothered by Marion, and Harden was basically playing PG and getting fouled. Perkins stepped in during the first, knocked down two jumpers, and had a couple of nice inside plays as well. Derek Fisher stepped up in the third and fourth, hitting mid-range jumpers on the drive like Westbrook and hitting a key three late in the fourth. Without those spurts of offense, this game would have been toast.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
Durant and Harden combined for 7-24 from the floor tonight. Of course, they somewhat made up for it with their combined 22-24 free throw shooting, but there's no denying that their shooting was really off. Overall their performances were acceptable, but both offenses were clicking pretty well tonight, so it was disheartening to see them miss so many shots.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The win puts the Thunder up 2-0 on the series, and the next game is in Dallas. Either of the next two wins would just be gravy in the series, and the Thunder are pretty clearly in the driver's seat right now. It's not a time to rest easy, but I certainly don't feel bad about what's been accomplished so far.
Thunder Wonder: Kendrick Perkins, for exploiting Brendan Haywood's inability to go mid-range.
Thunder Down Under: Derek Fisher, for hitting his shots with ease.
Thunder Blunder: Nick Collison, who fouled out way too early.
Thunder Plunderer: Dirk Nowitzki, for again saving his team in the fourth.
Next Game: At the Dallas Mavericks, Thursday, May 3rd, 8:30 PM Central Daylight Time.