NBA Playoffs 2011: Oklahoma City's Keys to Game 2 in Dallas
Now that Game 1 is in the books it's time to look at what lies ahead. Tonight is Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and a lot is on the line.
In Game 1 Dirk had an almost perfect night, finishing with 48 points and draining all 24 free throw attempts. For the Thunder, this simply cannot happen again.
The "Durantula" had a great outing that was overshadowed by Dirk's brilliance. Durant put up 40 points of his own, proving just how difficult it is to guard him.
Enough recap of Game 1. It's time to focus in on a huge Game 2 for both teams. Here are the five biggest keys for the Thunder to take Game 2 in Dallas.
5. Keep Tyson Chandler from Being Effective
Tyson Chandler causes even more matchup problems for the Thunder. With his size and athleticism, Oklahoma City does not really have a player that can keep him off the boards all the time.
Kendrick Perkins was responsible for that job in Game 1 and got lucky that they both got into foul trouble early. Perkins is not much of an offensive force, so the Thunder will need to attack Chandler when driving to the bucket.
With Perkins' wide frame he was able to do a surprisingly good job of keeping Chandler off the boards. This is exactly why the Thunder traded for Perkins in the first place.
Perkins and company absolutely have to keep Chandler away from the hoop and in foul trouble if they want to win the rebounding margin in Game 2.
4. Slow Down J.J. Barea and Jason Terry
In Game 1, the combination of Jason Terry and J.J. Barea torched the Thunder. The two combined for 45 points, which is easily over a third of the team’s points.
The Thunder simply cannot let this happen. These players both come off the bench, so limiting the bench scoring of Dallas is essential.
The responsibility of stopping these two comes down to Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Eric Maynor. None of these players are known for their defensive prowess, making this job that much more strenuous.
Look for Scott Brooks to make serious adjustments in stopping these two from breaking the game wide open.
3. Durant Has to Continue to Be Dominant
Durant’s 40 point, eight rebound, and five assist performance in Game 1 is easily overshadowed by fans who watched the game. One thing that is for certain is that Dallas took note of it.
Durant was extremely effective in Game 1, draining open shots and creating off of the dribble. Since Dallas lacks a player that can guard him effectively, the 6’10” small forward has to stick to his game.
Durant’s dribble and drive game is really developing, something that is essential for this Thunder team. Durant needs to get to the basket early and often against Dallas tonight.
With his wiry thin frame, Durant can barely be touched and it appears to be a foul. Durant needs at least 30 points and 10 free throw attempts for a Thunder win tonight.
2. Russell Westbrook Has to Bounce Back
It feels like every third game these playoffs Russell Westbrook needs to bounce back from the previous one. Well, tonight is no different.
Westbrook went a horrendous 3-for-15 Tuesday night and Kevin Durant bet his house it would not happen again.
Even though Westbrook went 3-for-15, the UCLA native did not attempt a single three pointer.
Westbrook needs to pull out his full arsenal in Game 2, showing that he can be effective all over the floor.
Expect a big time bounce back game from Mr. Westbrook.
1. Contain Dirk Nowitzki Somehow
Dirk Nowitzki was unconscious in Game 1. He was draining shots all over the floor and most of the time Ibaka was all over him.
While Dirk is still going to score at least 20 points, the Thunder have to do a better job of denying him shots.
This is where Scott Brooks will have decisions to make. Whether he wants to front Dirk, double team him, or just let him try to duplicate his Game 1 efforts is up to his game plan.
Either way, something has to change about how they guard Dirk.
Expect Oklahoma City to come out and guard Dirk a completely different way from the opening tip to the last buzzer.