Playoff Practice Report (4/29/12)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Oklahoma City as the Dallas Mavericks try to bounce back from a tough loss to the Thunder in Game 1 of their first-round series.
Playoff Practice Report (4/29/12)
OKLAHOMA CITY — Although most teams would be deterred after suffering a heart-breaking loss to begin a playoff series, the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks weren’t at all slowed in their pursuit of a second straight title.
Building a seven-point lead after leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki’s three-point play with 3:23 remaining, the Mavericks appeared poised to still Game 1 and the home-court advantage Saturday night away from the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, the Mavs fizzled out down the stretch, eventually falling to a 99-98 defeat on three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant’s game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining.
Now, the Mavericks will try to leave Oklahoma City with a split of the first two games, attempting to take Game 2 on Monday night before the series shifts to Dallas for two more showdowns.
“We’ll we know what we’ve gotta do. We’re an experienced team, we’re playing a very good team, we just watched segments of the game and we played a very good game, but we can play a great game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after his team’s Saturday practice. “And we’ve gotta pick it up in some specific areas. As well as we played, we’re gonna have to play a little bit better.”
“Hey, it happens. The game of basketball is about runs and they made the run at the right time,” point guard Jason Kidd added. “You know, if we had it to do all over again, there were some opportunities there that we needed to finish some plays that we normally do, but hey, it happens and we can learn from it.”
In order to do so, however, the Mavs admitted that they will have to make plenty of adjustments heading into the second game.
Holding Durant to just 10-of-27 from the field for his 25 points, the Mavericks still allowed All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to explode for 28 points on 13-of-23 shooting. Sixth man James Harden also pitched in 19 points off the bench to complete the Thunder’s production from the Big Three.
But the Mavericks in no way anticipated the 22 points big man Serge Ibaka accounted for, including a rare 3-pointer to trim the Dallas lead to just three, 51-48, entering the half.
“Well, we’re gonna make adjustments, of course,” Carlisle simply said, “but our core game is not gonna change all that much. But there are some things we’re gonna do differently and there are some things we have to do better in. And the things we have to do better are some of the things we have to adjust, they’re not necessarily changes.
“We’ll try taking away [Ibaka’s] threes,” the coach joked. “You know, we don’t wanna let him dunk the ball easily around the basket. So, there’s things we can do.”
At the other end of the floor, the Mavericks will try to do a better job of milking a hot hand, after sixth man Jason Terry carved up the Thunder defense for 20 points through three quarters but only attempted one shot in the final period.
After the Thunder switched to have Westbrook guard Dallas’ star reserve, the Mavs went instead in the direction of Nowitzki, who finished with 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting after missing his first four shots. Still, with Terry in a groove for most of the game, both Carlisle and Kidd agree that somehow the team has to continue to ride Terry’s lights-out shooting down the stretch.
“Well, I think they put Westbrook on him and just denied him the ball,” Kidd explained after Terry’s 8-of-10 shooting performance and 4-for-5 night behind the three-point arc. “So, we have to figure out different ways to get JET [Terry] in different positions to get the ball to be successful, and we expect to see that tomorrow. So, hopefully we can get him in the right spot and hopefully he’s still hot. I mean, he had a great game and it was our fault that we couldn’t get him the ball in that fourth quarter.”
“Well, Westbrook was active on him but frankly we were going to Dirk most of the time. That’s where I think our balance could be a little bit better and that’s on me. I can do some things to get JET a little more involved,” Carlisle concluded.
Note: The Mavs-Thunder series continues on Monday night in Oklahoma City, with Game 2 of the first-round matchup airing locally on TXA 21 and nationally on TNT at 8:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs-Thunder first-round series schedule is as follows:
Game 2: Mavericks at Thunder; Monday April 30 at 8:30 p.m. CT on TNT/TXA 21
Game 3: Thunder at Mavericks; Thursday May 3 at 8:30 p.m. CT on TNT/TXA 21
Game 4: Thunder at Mavericks; Saturday May 5 at 6:30 p.m. CT on TNT/TXA 21
Game 5: Mavericks at Thunder; Monday May 7 TBA
Game 6: Thunder at Mavericks; Thursday May 10 TBA
Game 7: Mavericks at Thunder; Saturday May 12 TBA