Oklahoma City Thunder

2011 NBA Playoffs Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 2

Roberto PayneContributor IMay 19, 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 2

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 17, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder is tonight at 9 PM ET at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

    Game 1 was very entertaining, and Game 2 should have a similar excitement. Game 2 is very important, more so for the Thunder, but important nonetheless.

    Will Dallas take a commanding 2-0 lead? Or will the Thunder tie the series up and considerably reduce the pressure on them? Read on to find out who wins and how they will do so.

How Game 1 Was Won

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks goes up for a shot in front of Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Cen
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In my prediction for Game 1, I wrote the Mavs would need a heavy dose of Dirk to win but I did not think there would be this heavy of a dose. Dirk had 48 points, six rebounds, four assists, four blocks, went 24-24 from the free throw line, and did not make a three pointer all game. This was truly an all time great performance from Dirk Nowitzki.

    When Dirk's production was combined with 53 bench points, it was almost impossible for the Thunder to have a chance to win, but the Thunder still were in the game until the final seconds.

    Kevin Durant kept the team in the game with 40 points and he was supported by Russell Westbrook's 20 points.

Dallas Mavericks: Keys to a Game 2 Victory

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 17, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Mavs played a great all around game in Game 1 and they should have the edge going in to Game 2. They really need to follow the same game plan from Game 1 and they should be fine.

    If Dirk gets production in the 30's and the bench plays like they did in Game 1, then the Mavs will be well on their way to a victory in Game 2.

    But if there is something they should work on, it's defensive rebounding. The Thunder had 11 offensive rebounds and the Mavs need to focus on limiting second chance opportunities for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Keys to a Game 2 Victory

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts in the second half while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 17, 2011 in Dal
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will give the usual production, but they need better bench play. I feel like I say this every time but they need someone not named Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, or James Harden to score double digits. They will not win if they do not get better bench play.

    Also, they need to limit Dirk somehow; I'm not saying completely shut him down but they can't let him score over 30. They need to throw multiple defenders at him and they might want to consider putting Kendrick Perkins on him at times.

    One strategy the Thunder could use is to let Dirk go off but limit everyone else. It's what the San Antonio Spurs did to the Cleveland Cavaliers—and specifically LeBron James—in the 2007 NBA Finals.

    If Dirk goes off like he did in Game 1, it will be almost impossible for the Thunder to win.

Who Wins Game 2?

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates as he walks off the court after the Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-112 in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airli
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Dallas has all the momentum right now and they need to keep the ball rolling. If Dirk is as involved as he was in Game 1 then the Mavs will be well on their way to a victory in Game 2.

    For the Thunder to have a chance then they need to stop Dirk or limit the production of those around him. No doubt Scott Brooks will have some kind of game plan to stop Dirk.

    Look for J.J. Barea to have another big game off the bench for the Mavs and for Dallas to once again ride Dirk all the way until the end.

    Oklahoma City will put up a fight but still they will not have enough to win.

    Mavericks win 115-107

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