3 Studs, 2 duds from Mavericks' pivotal Game 3 win over Thunder

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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1. Stud - Kyrie Irving

The story with Kyrie Irving in the second halves of games continues to be the same.

He always starts the game fairly slow, feels it out, and then flips the switch once the second half begins. That's exactly what happened in Game 3, and Irving's performance down the stretch ultimately helped the Mavs get the win.

Irving finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and seven assists in the win while shooting 10-17 from the field and 2-6 from downtown. 14 of these points came in the second half, and Irving locked in when they needed him most.

He scored eight points in the fourth quarter while shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field, and his assertiveness in the second half was noticeable. Irving was attacking mismatches, getting to his spots, and he ultimately willed the Mavs to a win.

Irving continues to be the closer that the Mavs need, but he also quietly shows his leadership in big moments.

The Oklahoma City Thunder decided to intentionally foul Dereck Lively II several times down the stretch, and at first, Lively II was running away from the Thunder players who were trying to foul him.

Lively II isn't a great free-throw shooter, and it didn't look like he wanted to be at the free-throw line. Irving advised Lively II to stop running and take his free throws with confidence, and that's exactly what he did.

Irving's leadership helped the young rookie thrive in this big moment, and this game could have ended completely differently if Lively II wasn't confident at the free-throw line.

The Mavs will have the chance to take a 3-1 series lead over the Thunder on Monday night.

For all the latest on Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Playoffs, stay tuned.