Mavericks beat Thunder so thoroughly that they had to trade budding star

Dallas Mavericks, Josh Giddey, P.J. Washington, Kyrie Irving
Dallas Mavericks, Josh Giddey, P.J. Washington, Kyrie Irving / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks' run to the Finals meant eliminating three other Western Conference competitors and breaking the hearts of their players and fans. One of the teams they defeated was the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were probably hoping to make a deep playoff run after securing the No. 1 seed in the West after the regular season.

Instead, Dallas sent them to Cancun after the Western Conference semifinals and may have forced them into a blockbuster trade by moving up in the 2024 NBA Draft to have a chance at bringing in intriguing prospect Donovan Clingan, as that has been rumored for some time now.

Oklahoma City has already started retooling its roster by acquiring fan-favorite Alex Caruso, a defensive stalwart who could have also fixed a glaring hole on the Mavs' roster.

Mavericks beat Thunder so thoroughly that they had to trade Josh Giddey

It was an interesting move by the Thunder, considering they had to give up their No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft, Josh Giddey, to complete the deal with the Chicago Bulls. Giddey had also started in each but two of his games with Oklahoma City. If you're wondering what the contests in which he didn't start, they were the last two meetings of the squad's playoffs matchup with Dallas.

For the first three seasons of his career, it seemed like the Australian pro was set to become a key part of the Thunder's core in the foreseeable future. Team president Sam Presti even referred to him as someone with "All-Star potential."

However, a series against the Mavs was probably what the organization needed to remove him from the starting lineup and deem him expendable.

Marc Stein noted on his Substack (subscription required) that he saw Giddey "clearly lacking in confidence" during the West semis.

After the guard scored at least 13 in the last three games of OKC's sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the postseason, he was kept in check by a formidable Dallas defense.

Not only did the Mavs limit him to just one double-digit scoring game and an average of 6.2 points per contest in the series, but they also had him attempt just 6.2 field goals per match. Giddey also dished out 1.3 assists per game against Dallas after recording 5.7 dimes per contest for his career.

Evidently, the Mavs' defense continued to improve as the 2023-24 campaign went along. While one of the squad's weaknesses entering the playoffs was supposedly its wing and point-of-attack defense, it has established a foundation to build on that end of the floor. Hopefully, it can take more steps forward on defense next season as it tries to make a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Stay tuned to read more about the Dallas Mavericks.