Prior to game 2 most columnists wrote the same think that Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki said prior to game one, that in order for the Mavericks to have a chance in the series they will have to find a way to slow the game down because there was no way they could run with the Thunder. In game 2 Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle showed once again that he is amongst the elite coaches in the game as he erased the memories of an awful game one performance with a gritty team effort in a 85-84 Mavericks win to even up the series. Carlisle stressed after game one that the blowout was insignificant and just one game and he sure did seem prophetic after game 2.
The Mavericks were led in scoring by Raymond Felton who is having resurgence in his career. He spent most of last season either on the bench or the inactive list and even spent time on the bench at the beginning of this season. Injuries led to him getting more playing time and he has taken full advantage of it. He finished with 21 points and an impressive 11rebounds when he was often the smallest player on the floor. Deron Williams was not expected to play with an abdominal strain but he decided to gut it out while scoring 11 of his 13 points in the games first 5 minutes. His gutty performance seemed to inspire his teammates and he never looked back. Mowitzki finished with 17 points and made several big plays down the stretch. Salah Mejri was productive off the bench with 12 points. There weren’t many impressive individual performances; this effort was simply an all around team win.
For the Thunder they are often going to as far as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant can take them. When things are going well they can look like the best team in the league. However when things are going poorly it will look a lot like last night. The superstar duo combined to shoot 15-55 from the field including 3-17 from the three-point line. Give due credit to the defensive rotations of the Mavericks but also chalk this one up to a bad shooting night. Serge Ibaka had 12 points and 8 rebounds. Starting Center Steven Adams had what looked like 11 points after his tip in at the buzzer was ruled good for the Thunder win. However replay showed the shot was late and Adams ended up with 9 points.
Dallas will need to control their emotions back home for game 3. The home crowd will get the juices flowing and they will need to fight the urge to get into a running game with the Thunder, They will need to stick to a similar game plan that got then the game 2 win. The Thunder will obviously need a better performance from their stars but they will also need a better effort from their bench and role players. Look for the Thunder to try and get Enes Kanter the ball more often when he is in the game in game 3.
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