The Dallas Mavericks went down to Oklahoma City seeking to regain their edge after losing Game 2 in Dallas. And they came out with both barrels blazing. The Mavs lead by as many as 23 points in the first half and held on to win 93 – 87. The defense was much improved over Game 2. They held the Thunder to an outstanding 36.5% from the field, including a horrific 1-for-17 from beyond the arc.
What made the win even more impressive, the Mavs won despite a poor overall performance from leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki and sharpshooter Jason Terry. While Dirk shot only 7-for-21 from the field, finishing with 18 points, he hit some key buckets down the stretch to preserve the lead. Nowitzki and Shawn Marion led the team with 18 points.
It was good to see Marion have a strong offensive performance as he has been quiet this postseason. Marion had some explosive plays early to help the Mavericks build a big lead. Jason Kidd also contributed more points in the win, adding 13 points to the effort. But it was the totality of his efforts that was the real story. Kidd grabbed 6 rebounds (he is point guard!), had 8 assists, and 4 steals. The 38 year old veteran continues to defy logic and expectations and continues to come up big for the Mavs.
Tyson Chandler also was a force, especially on the defensive end and cleaning the boards. Chandler had 15 rebounds, 1 block, and 8 points. The Mavs won despite a 30 point effort from Russell Westbrook and 24 points from Kevin Durant. But they contained and stifled the rest of the team, holding their bench to 16 points.
The Mavs have the opportunity to really take control of this series and set themselves up well for the Finals. Another fast start may just break the spirit of the young Thunder team. Another strong effort from Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler would not hurt. But they need to get Dirk going early. Chances are that the Mavs will not win many games with a poor performance from Nowitzki. Jason Terry also has to find his scoring touch again.
The good news is that the team is winning when not hitting on all cylinders. The bad news is that they cannot continue to win with a lack of scoring from their two best scorers. The Mavs have demonstrated that they are able to hold on to a big lead and close games out. They have heart, grit, and mental toughness. Now they have to prove it by winning another big game on the road, all but closing out this series. It sets up a chance to close out the series at home and get the team some rest. Lets hope they can get it done once again.