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The Thunder waited until almost the very last second (1.5 seconds actually) to take what amounted to a commanding lead over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the their first round playoff series.
They’re hoping not to wait that long in Game Two but good luck on that.
“You look at Dallas’ team and you can say it’s a two-seven matchup, but everyone knows they’re much better than a seven,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters.
Every game of last season’s Western Conference Finals was decided by less than 10 points and three of the four regular season games the teams have played in 2011-12 (all three in OKC) have decided by less than 10 points so it should be no surprise there was no wiggle room last night.
“It’s going to be a tough series every game,” Brooks predicted, “Game 2 is going to be tougher and we understand that. That’s how they play and that’s how we play.”
Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle certainly didn’t seem ready to throw in the towel when he talked to reporters after the game, “we’re gonna keep comin’ at these guys we just didn’t get it done (Saturday night) but we’re comin’ out guns blazin’ every game.”
Both teams are sure to make some adjustments. For the Thunder it will be the usual, try to take care of the ball a little better out on the perimeter. OKC turned the ball over 14 times which is a number you can usually live with except last night most every one of the giveaways led directly to Mavs points (24 on those 14 turns) and they need to do a better job on the boards (Dallas out-rebounded Oklahoma City 42-36).
“Almost all of our turnovers led to two points for them so we have to make sure we manage that,” Brooks said after today’s practice, “we just had too many live ball turnovers on top when you have too many live ball turnovers on top it leads to two-on-one, three-on-one fast breaks so we have to be stronger with the basketball.”
The Mavericks will have to do a much better job getting Jason Terry shots in the fourth quarter. After going 8-for-9 in the first three quarters the man they call Jet was able to attempt only one shot and he missed that one, “I’ve gotta look at the film and see what they did differently,” Terry said after the game.
The main thing the Thunder seemed to do was put Russell Westbrook on Terry for much of the fourth quarter and Russ was in shut down mode.
“We gotta find a way to get Jet the ball,” Dirk Nowitzki admitted after the game, “in the fourth quarter they denied him everywhere, Russ picked him up all the way out at half court.”
“Russell’s a talented kid,” Brooks pointed out, “he has the ability to guard multiple guards in this league, not just point guards, but it takes a lot of energy to do that.”
Fortunately energy is something Westbrook has plenty of and it’s a good thing because according to his head coach, “Russell will see him (Terry) again tomorrow night.”
Randy Renner has covered Oklahoma sports for 30 years and contributes to NBA.com