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Recap: Thunder mercilessly overrun Mavericks on historic level, 108-70

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Biggest Thunder playoff victory, second biggest Mav playoff loss. Could the playoffs have started off any better?

Keeping it under control
Keeping it under control
W. Bennett Berry

In what was the largest post-season victory in franchise history, the Oklahoma City Thunder have walloped the Dallas Mavericks, 108-70. Prior to tonight's game, the Thunder's largest post-season victory was 29, achieved twice. This game was the second largest Maverick playoff loss of all time. The largest Maverick playoff loss stands as 43 points, achieved back in 1984.

Without Chandler Parsons to match up with him, things were easy for Kevin Durant. Durant frequently found himself in mismatches and with easy shots. Durant was 2 of 4 from mid-range, and 2 of 3 from inside the paint. But what really impressed were Durant's threes. With 7:03 to go in the second, KD hit a three directly off of a Pachulia turnover. And with 2:23 to go in the second, KD nailed a three off of a Westbrook drive. Both those threes were a large part of the Thunder's continued run in the second quarter. As always, KD was a rock solid 8-8 from the free throw line.

Russell Westbrook, like Durant, got to showcase his entire offensive repertoire. Westbrook's 2 of 5 shooting from three was more than acceptable. One of Westbrook's threes was from way deep. And Westbrook shot over 50% from inside the paint and in mid-range. It was nice to see Westbrook continue to make his shot a threat, rather than just relying on his rim-driving ability. Westbrook has gone rim-only on the Mavericks during the regular season this year. No triple-double tonight, but 24 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes is still awesome. I also have to credit Westbrook's ability to push the pace, which generally caught the Mav defense before they were ready.

Along with the usual performances of Durant and Westbrook, tonight we saw some extremely efficient offensive outings from Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter. Ibaka was 3 of 4 from three, 2 of 2 from mid-range, and 2 of 2 in the post. Ibaka even nailed a crazy hook shot over Devin Harris. The Mavericks made a concentrated effort to trap Durant and Westbrook, often leaving Ibaka open. Ibaka certainly made them pay tonight. Ibaka's most impressive long-range bucket was when he had a quick catch and shoot in transition. It was probably the lowest shot time I had ever seen Ibaka take. Enes Kanter was 5 of 5 from the post through the first three quarters. In particular Kanter was easily able to muscle Zaza Pachulia out of the way for easy points near the rim. Kanter was also 1 of 2 from mid-range.

Kanter's defense was solid tonight. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Generally, Kanter did a good job of being where he needed to be when the drives came in the post, and keeping his arms up. Traditional stuff. There were still a couple of Kanter fumbles, but they paled in comparison to his total triumphs. Kanter was also crucial to securing the rebounding game, grabbing 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action.

Box ScoreShot Chart/Play-by-PlayPopcorn MachineRussell Westbrook 24 Pts HighlightsDirk Nowitzki 18 Pts HighlightsSerge Ibaka 17 Pts HighlightsEnes Kanter 16 Pts Highlights

How did the Mavericks do?

Dirk Nowitzki was just about the only player that managed to do much of anything. Dwight Powell's 8 points were all in garbage time. Literally every other Maverick scored next to nothing or shot terribly. And even Dirk was generally negated when put into a one on one situation with Ibaka. Most of Dirk's success came when he could draw a mismatch, or when he could get set up off a pick play. Everyone else was totally shut down. Wes Matthews couldn't deal with the long arms of Andre Roberson in isolation situations. Raymond Felton was left alone in mid-range, and shut down in the paint. Felton shot 2 of 10 overall. Deron Williams couldn't get hot from three, and was denied in the paint. ZaZa Pachulia and Charlie Villanueva tried to concentrate their offense in the paint, but couldn't score on the Thunder's bigs.

Overall, the Mavs shot just 9 of 24 in the paint. That's some impressive interior defense from OKC. Adams was in first half foul trouble, but defended admirably while he was in. And Kanter was really good at stonewalling any post-ups.

Why did the Thunder win this game?

Defense. This game was above-average for the Thunder on an offensive level. But there were still 18 turnovers to go with 23 assists, and that's not a great ratio. The Thunder only won the offensive rebounding battle by 5, at a finaly tally of 14-9. So you really have to look at how the Mavericks shot, and it was terrible. The Thunder forced Dallas into bad shots, and they kept the pace quick off of the rebounds. OKC didn't really trap anybody, forcing the Mavs to rely on their individual talent. And the 37 year old Dirk Nowitzki just can't consistently generate offense. With no other star to rely upon, it was quickly curtains for Dallas. Props to OKC for staying on their shooters.

Lineup Chess

Coach Rick Carlisle started the game with a somewhat unconventional lineup. J.J. Barea started at the two guard, next to Deron Williams. Wes Matthews slid up to small forward. And Salah Mejri replaced Zaza Pachulia at center. After that lineup gave up a net 10 negative points to the Thunder's starters to start off the game, Carlisle never used it again. By the end of the second quarter, Carlisle had gone through 10 different lineups (and 12 deep on his bench) in an attempt to find one that worked. Most of the lineups were pretty traditional. Perhaps the most interesting was Carlisle's end of first quarter lineup, which featured three point guards and achieved a net +/- rating of -1.

After the half, Carlisle basically mailed it in in terms of lineup experimentation. Felton started in place of the injured Barea, and things just got worse for Dallas. By the mid-third, it was pretty apparent that the game had long escaped the Mavs.

On the other end, Coach Donovan used as many substitutions and lineup combinations as he could. The Thunder went 11 deep in the first half, delivering surprise minutes to Anthony Morrow and Nick Collison. I really liked the use of Collison on Nowitzki specifically, as it forced at least one Dirk miss. Donovan was even crazy enough to let the Thunder play without Durant and Westbrook for two minutes at the end of the first quarter. OKC was +1!

Donovan generally kept a center in the game at all times, and even rolled out a bit of the Kanter+Adams "Twin Towers{" lineup at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth. But other than that, Donovan kept things pretty standard. Morrow and Collison didn't initially see time with the bench in the second half, and the starters got a lot of time together. Bravo to Donovan for keeping all three of our stars at 30 minutes or below.

Slammin' Notes

  • David Lee has suffered a tear in his right heel, prior to tonight. Lee will miss at least the next game. This is a big blow to the Mavs bench, which really didn't make any sort of headway tonight.
  • Foye bricked a lot of open shots today, and lost the ball to JaVale McGee in an isolation situation. There was a cool off the dribble three in there, but I just wish this guy could be a bit more consistent.
  • Cameron Payne had a pre-game hip injury, and had to sit out tonight. Very stylin' dark red suit with black shirt on the sideline.
  • Dion Waiters took the right shots tonight, but couldn't connect from long-distance more than once, and had no success driving to the rim. It's pretty clear at this point that Waiters will need the element of surprise or a respectable shot if his drive is to consistently work.
  • Kyle Singler hit a corner three in the first, but had the majority of his minutes during garbage time. The Mave just don't have any big wings, so his defense wasn't really needed.
  • Morrow hit a three, and got a three shot foul. More playoff minutes, plz!
  • Josh Huestis and Nazr Mohammed got cameo minutes at the end of the game.
  • J.J. Barea started the game, and shot 1 of 6. Barea just couldn't establish his shot when given space around screens. At some point in the second quarter, Barea went to the locker room. Apparently, it was due to a hip strain. Coach Carlisle was "very concerned" about the injury post-game, but there's no timetable on his return.
  • "This was a significant loss..." "Not really. It's one game. 1-0." -Exchange between reporter and Rick Carlisle post-game
  • "See that shining Loves truck? That big gasoline tanker I was telling you about. There it is right there." "Right there." -Conversation between Brian Davis and Michael Cage, respectively
  • Something happened to Nazr Mohammed late. Made Donovan call timeout. Immediately went to locker room.
  • — Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 17, 2016

Marina's Awards

Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, the trap magnet

Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, whose shooting came through at the right time

Thunder Blunder: Randy Foye, I just wish his cold streak would end. Also could stand to give more effort, but unsure if he just didn't care because the game was out of hand.

Thunder Plunderer: Dirk Nowitzki, the tall automatic shot machine

Next Game: Versus the Dallas Mavericks, Monday, April 18th, 7 PM Central Daylight Time.

What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!