Mavericks guard emerges as X-factor after being unplayable in Thunder series

Dallas Mavericks, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Dallas Mavericks, Tim Hardaway Jr. / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Later today, the Dallas Mavericks take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of their second-round series. The series is currently tied 1-1, as the Mavs got a huge win in Oklahoma City on Thursday night.

P.J. Washington and Luka Doncic were excellent in this game as they each finished with 29 points, and the Mavs shot 48.6 percent from downtown in the win.

The Mavs seemingly couldn't miss from 3-point range, and they were able to overcome Kyrie Irving scoring just nine points. Irving impacted the game in every other way and his defense was great, and Dallas' role players stepping up in this game helped take the weight off his shoulders in this game.

Tim Hardaway Jr. emerges as X-factor after being unplayable in Thunder series

One role player in particular who stepped up in a big way was Tim Hardaway Jr. as he finished with 17 points while shooting 6-10 from the field and 2-4 from downtown. This was Hardaway Jr.'s first good game of the playoffs, and the Mavs needed this badly.

With Dante Exum struggling so badly, the Mavs definitely needed someone else to step up as a shooter off the bench. Exum's shooting was excellent all year, but since it has plummeted in the playoffs, the Mavs have had to look elsewhere.

Hardaway Jr. stepped up perfectly in that way, as he was knocking down open shots from downtown, hitting mid-range jumpers, and even scoring at the rim. This big game from Hardaway Jr. was a huge breath of fresh air considering the shooting struggles that plagued the second half of his season, and the Mavs will need this to continue.

Shooting off the bench has been one weak area for the Mavs for the second half of this season, and Game 2 could have been a huge step in the right direction for Hardaway Jr. to get back to being a deadly shooter. Before Game 2, the last time Hardaway Jr. scored 17 or more points was on March 26.

That's a long time considering how well he played at the beginning of the year, and time will tell if Hardaway Jr. can string together some consistent performances in this series against the Thunder. Irving and Doncic will keep feeding him the ball and it'll be up to him to knock down open shots and play within the offense.

For all the latest on Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., and the Dallas Mavericks this season, stay tuned.