After a huge Game 2 upset, the Oklahoma City Thunder got back on track in their first round series against the Dallas Mavericks with a 131-102 win on Thursday. Durant, whose terrible shooting arguably cost Oklahoma City the win in Game 2, got back on track with 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting, while Russell Westbrook dropped 26 more points on 9-of-16 shooting.
Although the Mavericks saw J.J. Barea and David Lee return from Game 2 injuries, Deron Williams missed after gutting through his sports hernia injury for a huge impact in Monday's win. With Dallas still missing Chandler Parsons, who underwent season-ending knee surgery last month, the Mavericks didn't have enough firepower to keep up on either end.
Dallas kept the game interesting for nearly three quarters, but the excellence of Durant and Westbrook was too much. After the Mavericks slowed down Game 2, Oklahoma City played Game 3 at the quicker tempo they prefer. Lacking athletes, there wasn't much Dallas could do to keep up.
Oklahoma City now goes up 2-1 in the series, with another game coming at the American Airlines Center. It's possible Williams can give it another shot with his hernia injury after missing on Thursday.
1. KD wasn't playing around
After a career-worst 7-of-33 shooting night on Thursday, Kevin Durant was simply too good to let that happen again. The Oklahoma City superstar made shots early and often, scoring nine points in the first quarter and revving it up to 20 by halftime. Dallas' defense wasn't quite a crisp, with mixups leading to the much smaller Raymond Felton and Devin Harris matching him for a few possessions, but Durant made shots over Matthews, too. At nearly 7'0, he'd shoot over people, but we know Durant can do this, too.
Durant didn't let up at all on Thursday and proved his abnormally bad shooting night really was just an anomaly.
2. The Mavericks' Game 2 recipe won't work again
Dallas pulled off one hell of an upset on Monday, clogging up the Oklahoma City machine with a sluggish tempo and full-length defense on Durant. Unfortunately, that might be the last time this series that they can do that. The Thunder have an elite offense no matter who coaches them and Dallas can only sugarcoat the bad defenders they rely in big roles so much.
It still feels like the Mavericks can pull off another game, especially after stealing one on the road. But the 85-84 score from earlier this week won't cut it. Somehow, Rick Carlisle needs to cook up a magical combination that works offensively. Perhaps it's a highest emphasis on Dirk Nowitzki post-ups, or maybe two more days of rest for J.J. Barea will give him the extra burst that he's clearly missing. Either way, Dallas needs a new plan. The Thunder have shot the one from Game 2 to shreds.
3. The s***-talking in this series is picking up
The national story from Game 2 was the Westbrook and Charlie Villanueva's mix-up on a pre-game Westbrook dance. After the game, Westbrook and Durant talked more trash saying Villanueva doesn't play, and he responded saying they should take their dancing to a "night club."
plenty of dancing from the Thunder. the Mavericks did not interrupt today. pic.twitter.com/YUSpwUuAFs— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) April 21, 2016
There was no interruptions during the Thunder's pre-game dance routine on Thursday, but there was a scuffle between Felton and Steven Adams, as well as a good amount of trash talk being thrown around if you watched closely. This often happens during playoff series: of course it will with two teams playing at least four-straight games against each other with huge stakes. There's a good chance we see some feisty back-and-forth with at least two more games against each other for these teams.