Dirk Nowitzki is on another planet right now. He's never looked more comfortable, more confident, and more unstoppable. Tuesday night vs. the Thunder, Dirk finished with 48 points, and as OKC coach Scott Brooks said afterward, "Tonight he had a rhythm. He had a rhythm that I don't know if the ball even hit the rim."
Earlier Tuesday, I wrote that Dallas could struggle after a week-long layoff that might have destroyed the rhythm they found during the Lakers series. Later Tuesday, all you could was laugh. Dirk made everyone else look inferior--even Kevin Durant, who chipped in with 40 points of his own.
The rest of the Mavericks were just as ridiculous as Dirk, albeit in a relative sense. J.J. Barea took over at the beginning of the fourth quarter, scoring 12 straight points to bring him to 21 for the game, and Jason Terry chipped in with another 24 off the bench. Throw in Shawn Marion's efforts on defense, and all around, it couldn't have been a much better game for Dallas' reserves.
So, to review: Dallas' superstar played like the best player on earth, and Dallas' role players played as well as they've looked all year. Given the circumstances, it's pretty impressive the Thunder didn't lose by 40.
Also, Russell Westbrook reverted to his disastrous alter ego (we need a name for this), making things that much harder for OKC. As I wrote Tuesday, "If Russell Westbrook goes off the grid for at least two games in this series, that probably hands the Mavericks two wins."
The good news for the Thunder? If Dirk and the Dallas bench plays like that, they're not going to win, anyway. If anything, it's better to get one of Westbrook's evil games out of the way early. Dirk's not going to shoot 80% from the field for the rest of the series (or is he?), so if OKC can bounce back in Game 2, there's still a good chance they can render Dirk's opening argument moot.
As for Dallas? Well, if Dirk does stay this hot, it might just render the rest of the playoffs moot.