Mavericks Try to Finish Off Thunder in Game 5

2011 NBA Playoffs, Western Conference Finals, Game #5
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #3 Dallas Mavericks (DAL leads series 3-1) Best of Seven Series Format, 2-2-1-1-1
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Mavericks -6
Current Line: Mavericks -6 1/2
Opening Total: 199 1/2
Current Total: 198 1/2
Money Line: Mavericks -300 / Thunder +250

Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks are one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006. The Mavericks are 6 1/2 point home favorites in game 5 against Oklahoma City

In game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared well on their way to evening up the series at 2 games apiece. The Thunder had a 99-84 lead with just under 5 minutes to go.

Then guard James Harden fouled out and Oklahoma City couldn’t score down the stretch. The Mavericks went on a 17-2 run to force overtime. Oklahoma City had a chance to win the game with 6 seconds left. Thunder coach Scott Brooks called a timeout. If you saw Oklahoma City’s body language, you could tell they were already beaten. Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook  just stared vacantly as coach Brooks drew up the play, and the rest of the players were looking down. They appeared “Thunderstruck” for lack of a better term. Durant took an awful 35 foot shot that was blocked by Shawn Marion. Dallas had time for one shot, but missed to send the game into overtime. Dallas dominated the overtime to win the game 112-105 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Only 3 teams have ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win a series in the NBA conference Finals, the last being Boston in 1981. 

How the young Thunder will react after such a devastating loss remains to be seen. They certainly have the talent to force a game 6 by winning Wednesday in Dallas, but are they mentally strong enough to?

In games 3 and 4, the Oklahoma City Thunder were 3 for 30 from 3-point range. They will look back on that with regret if and when they lose this series. In game 4, The Thunder outrebounded the Mavericks 55-33. However, a mind-boggling  25 turnovers doomed the Thunder in the loss. The fact is Oklahoma City was outscored 28-6 in the final 5 minutes of regulation and overtime. You don’t deserve to win an NBA playoff game with stats like that.

Until he went ice cold down the stretch, Durant was having a good game. He had 29 points on 9 for 22 shooting, and he made 9 out of 10 free throws. He also had 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block. Durant also had 9 turnovers which means he was one turnover shy of the most unfortunate triple double in NBA history. Westbrook was 7 for 22 from the field and 5 for 8 from the free throw line. He scored 19 points, had 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals. He had 6 turnovers of his own. Forward Serge Ibaka added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Guard Thabo Sefolosha added 12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, and a block.  Forward Nick Collison added 12 points, 7 rebounds (6 on offense), 3 assists, a steal and a block off the bench. The Thunder shot 47% from the field and made 19 out of 25 free throws. They had 19 fast break points, and 54 points in the paint.

Dirk Nowitzki was his normal incredible self Monday night, especially in the 4th quarter and overtime. He had 40 points on 12 for 20 shooting, and made 14 of 15 free throws. Jason Kidd scored 17 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. Jason Terry added 20 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, and 4 steals. No other Maverick scored more than 9 points. Dallas shot 43% from the field including 8 for 25 from 3 point range. They made 34 out of 39 free throws. Dallas had 16 assists and 13 turnovers. The Mavericks had 6 fast break points, and 36 points in the paint.

Neither team has a significant injury right now. Dallas is 9-5 straight-up in the last 3 seasons against OKC, but the Thunder are 8-6 ATS in those games. The over is also 8-6 in those meetings. The Mavericks are 13-1 ATS in all playoff games this season, and 8-1 ATS when leading a playoff series.

Though this series is far from over, It looks like Kevin Durant and Chicago’s Derrick Rose are learning that you have to pay your dues and “learn how to win” in the NBA. Unfortunately, this usually means a heartbreaking series loss to a more experienced team. Though it seems painful right now, it will only serve to make Durant and Rose better players. Just ask Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant, who all won multiple championships after a devastating loss. As for game 5 between the Mavericks and Thunder, the Mavericks don’t want to take any chances. They need to knock this team out while they have them on the ropes. Mavericks win and cover and await a probable Finals showdown with Miami.

Check out our NBA odds page for the best odds on this and every other NBA playoff game.

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