Dirk Nowitzki had a night to remember on Tuesday as he almost single-handedly downed the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Dallas Mavericks 121-112 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Nowitzki scored a game-high 48 points, but his total wasn't the story. Instead, it was how he put those 48 points on the board and the efficiency he displayed en route to his record-setting night.
By the end of the third quarter, Nowitzki had already mowed down each defender the Oklahoma City Thunder had put in his path. In the third alone, he scored 17 points, 13 of which came from the free throw line. It was a theme for the night as Nowitzki drew fouls, got to the line and made the Thunder pay. When it was all said and done, Nowitzki had set a new NBA playoff record by connecting on all 24 of his free throw attempts, the most single-game makes without a miss in postseason history.
His exploits at the charity stripe contributed to an even more eye-popping stat: Nowitzki scored 48 points on just 15 field goal attempts and 12 makes. He missed just three shots from the field and operated with a level of unseen efficiency. By True Shooting percentage, a stat that accounts for field goal field goals, three-pointers and free throws, Nowitzki dwarfed Vince Carter's previous playoff high by an impressive margin, according to Kevin Pelton.
Dirk finishes with .939 TS%. Previous playoff high, min. 45 points, in @bball_ref era was .825 by V. Carter (5/11/01 vs. TOR)
At one point in the third quarter, Nowitzki's TS% sat at a healthy 99.1, which is outlandish no matter how you slice it.
Thanks to Nowitzki's prolific performance, the Mavericks head into Game 2 with the edge after Tuesday's nine-point win. But anyone that watched Tuesday night's game has to wonder just how Oklahoma City plans to guard Nowitzki and if it's even possible. After head coach Scott Brooks threw everything he had at the Dallas big man, Nowitzki shrugged, brushed his defender to the side like King Kong flicking a car and steamrolled the Thunder.