May 21, 2024

Thunder slip into 2-1 series hole in NBA playoffs against Mavericks: What has gone wrong?

The most threatening Oklahoma City Thunder possession Saturday afternoon in Dallas may need been their briefest. It got here with simply over two minutes left in a three-point recreation, a large swing sequence in this second-round series.

Isaiah Joe, the Thunder’s ace shooter off the bench, reached out to stab a slick steal, doubling Kyrie Irving and recovering in time to seize Irving’s pocket bounce go along with his left hand and redirect it into a behind-the-back quick break the opposite route. Jalen Williams, trailing on his proper, had sufficient of a step to make it a three-on-two transition alternative.

But earlier than the sequence had an opportunity to even materialize, Joe threw a rushed skip go up forward to Luguentz Dort, who didn’t anticipate it. Luka Dončić, one of many league’s sharper minds, learn the error and pounced into the passing lane. Within three seconds, he’d turned his personal steal into a gliding layup.

That’s a four-point swing, presumably 5. A transition layup would’ve put the Thunder down one-point, a made 3 would’ve tied it. Instead, Dončić’s layup put the Mavericks up 5. They’d defend that slight cushion to complete off a 105-101 Game 3 win two minutes later, bumping the Mavs up 2-1 in the series and placing the Thunder in their first hole throughout these playoffs.

Oklahoma City, whereas younger, is likely one of the most secure offensive groups in the NBA. Their 12.7 turnovers per recreation this season have been seventh-fewest. Their ultimate whole on Saturday (14) was solely a tick above that common. But in a slender recreation, a few of their unforced, uncharacteristic giveaways (similar to the Game 2 loss) stick out as significantly dangerous.

Here are two extra. Both come immediately after a rebound against zero Mavericks stress. Jalen Williams throws the primary too far forward and out of bounds. Aaron Wiggins throws the second into the primary row.

Let’s check out a few of the Thunder’s different massive points in their Game 3 loss, as they use the subsequent 48 hours prepping for a high-stakes Game 4 on Monday night time in Dallas.

Fifteen Mavericks offensive rebounds

Those two highlighted turnovers in the earlier clip really feel an additional bit detrimental as a result of they got here immediately after an all-valuable defensive rebound, which has eluded the Thunder typically this season and too typically in Game 3. The Mavericks had 15 offensive rebounds (9 greater than OKC) and 16 second-chance factors (seven extra).

That included a first-quarter possession in which the Mavericks grabbed three offensive rebounds in a 10-second sequence. The third was a tip putback from P.J. Washington, who’d simply missed a 3 on the correct wing, however the Thunder didn’t field him out, so he slipped by to the correct block for 2 additional factors. Here it’s.

Washington’s bulk scoring

Check out the record of level totals for the top-five scorers in this series by three video games.

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 93
2. Luka Dončić: 70
3. P.J. Washington: 66
4. Jalen Williams: 54
5. Kyrie Irving: 51

That third bolded identify is the sudden outlier, altering this series due to his bulk scoring subsequent to Dončić. Washington had 29 factors in the Game 2 win and 27 in the Game 3 win. For the Mavericks, that is their dream end result relationship again to the February commerce deadline after they acquired him. For Washington, it is a doable pivot level in his profession. For the Thunder, this an comprehensible technique backfiring.

Stopping the Mavericks is about containing Dončić, which they’ve executed decently, and Irving, which they’ve executed properly. But to take action, others can be left open. Washington is a kind of others. In this series, he’s now 14 of 26 on 3s, most both being open or huge open.

“He’s hooping,” Gilgeous-Alexander stated of Washington after Game 3. “We gotta turn that water off if we want to win this series, for sure.”

The Thunder had a 10-point third quarter lead on Saturday, however the Mavericks went on a 16-0 run that included this sequence at an emotional level of the sport. Dončić pump-faked and shouldered Dort, asking for a flopping technical after. But due to the collapsing protection, together with Gilgeous-Alexander, Washington was huge open in the nook for 3.

How’d the Giddey minutes go?

Not horrible. This was Giddey’s finest recreation of the three. He clearly entered with slightly bit extra of a plan to assault the ocean of area Dallas is giving him. He had a layup and floater in the primary quarter and a top-of-the-key 3 and decisive drive proper previous Daniel Gafford for a layup throughout an 11-0 third-quarter run. The Thunder have been plus-7 at one level with Giddey on the ground.

But he completed at a minus-1 as a result of he was on the ground for a bit of that third quarter Dallas turnaround, because the Mavericks continued to cross-match and use his defender to clog up the Thunder’s stream. Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault pulled the plug in the third and didn’t return to Giddey. He completed at 13 minutes after 17 and 11 the primary two video games, his three lowest minute totals since December.

Giddey wasn’t almost the Thunder’s largest downside in Game 3, however because the Thunder get extra determined and elimination attracts nearer, extra pressing changes are anticipated, leaving Giddey’s enjoying time much more susceptible in a series he doesn’t appear to suit.

Hacking technique fails

Down 5 and needing to increase the sport in the center of the fourth, Daigneault went to the hack technique, deliberately fouling rookie heart Dereck Lively II 4 separate instances.

It helped initially. Lively, a 50-percent free-throw shooter who hadn’t tried one in the primary two video games of the series, went 1 for 4 after the primary two fouls. The Thunder inched again and Mavericks coach Jason Kidd quickly pulled him.

But Kidd shortly went again to Lively and the Thunder fouled twice extra. Lively made all 4, boosting the Dallas result in 5 with 3:06 left. That was sufficient for the Mavericks to outlive. Lively completed the night time 8 of 12 on free throws, maybe doing sufficient to dissuade Daigneault from utilizing the technique in Game 4. We’ll see.

“We like doing it when there’s a numbers advantage to doing it,” He stated. “I give Lively credit. He made those last four.”

Other notes

  • Jalen Williams fell to the ground in the third quarter, grabbing at his left ankle and showing in severe ache. He finally obtained up, walked to the locker room with a limp and returned in the fourth quarter. He stated he’s fantastic. But it did pressure him from the sport for vital moments and hobbled him some. Williams had a comparatively quiet 16 factors.
  • Chet Holmgren missed each of his 3s and is now 3 of 13 from deep in this series and 27 p.c from 3 in the playoffs after making 37 p.c in the common season.
  • Gordon Hayward performed for 3 minutes after Williams left with the ankle scare. He did nothing. Aaron Wiggins, who’d been wonderful, missed all three of his 3s.
  • The Thunder, fairly surprisingly, didn’t go to the double-big look of Holmgren and Jaylin Williams after it labored to success the primary two video games.


(Photo of P.J. Washington capturing over Chet Holmgren: Tim Heitman / Getty Images)