2011 NBA Playoff Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 3
The Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder play Game 3 of their series tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET at the Oklahoma City Arena. The series is now tied at 1-1 and Game 3 is a must-win for both teams.
Usually, when the series is tied, the winner of Game 3 goes on to win the series. It should be action packed and no doubt will be a great game. Read on to see who has the upper hand in Game 3.
How Game 2 Was Won
Kevin Durant went absolutely nuts with his dunk over Brendan Haywood and energized his Thunder squad early on. He went on to score 24 points but the dunk was the turning point in the game.
Also, the Thunder got 50 points from their bench, including 23 points from James Harden and 13 points from Eric Maynor. It was an overall solid game from the Thunder.
The Mavs were led by Dirk Nowitzki's 29 points but their bench was not nearly as effective as the Thunder bench. Regardless, they were only down by four in the final seconds, but Peja Stojakovic missed a three-pointer with nine seconds left and they were shut out at the free throw line after that.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Keys to a Game 3 Victory
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a great home-court advantage and they should be pumped to be in front of their great fans again. They will no doubt come out with a ton of energy and should look to be aggressive out of the gate.
Russell Westbrook will be in attack mode to start off and when the defense starts to key on him, he will defer to Durant and let him go off.
The Thunder should get more production out of Durant and Westbrook this game, but their bench still needs to be in the 30-35 point range. The Thunder are at their best when their bench scores consistently and plays solid defense.
Also, they need to keep taking smart shots, as they did in Game 2. In Game 2, they shot 56 percent from the field and 81 percent from the line. They need to continue to capitalize on high-percentage shots and make the Mavs pay for fouling them.
Dallas Mavericks: Keys to a Game 3 Victory
The Mavs didn't play bad in Game 2, but they were out done by the bench of the Thunder. The Mavs need to make James Harden be a facilitator when he is on the floor. If James Harden is allowed to score 15-plus points a game, the Thunder are a very solid team. If Harden is not the leading bench scorer, then another less proven player will have to step up.
They also need to continue to convert on the Thunder's turnovers. They had 17 points off turnovers in Game 2, but if would help them dramatically if they could get 4-7 more points off turnovers.
Last, but not least, they have to continue to run the offense through Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is the key to the Mavs offense and they should lean on him, especially in a hostile environment. Look for Dirk to have 30-plus points.
Who Wins Game 3?
Before the series, I thought the Oklahoma City Thunder would win and I think Game 3 will be the game to make or break them. I believe the winner of this game will have the upper hand for the remainder of the series.
Look for Durant and Westbrook to really give the home crowd something to cheer about. Dirk will not let this happen without making a huge impact on the game but he will do so in a loosing effort.
Oklahoma City Thunder win, 109-103.