Mavericks and Thunder Shift to OKC for Game 3

2011 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Finals, Game #3
#3 Dallas Mavericks at #4 Oklahoma City Thunder (series tied 1-1)
Best of Seven Series Format 2-2-1-1-1
Oklahoma City Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Saturday, May 21, 2011, 9:05 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Thunder -3
Current Line: Thunder -2 1/2
Opening Total: 202
Current Total: 200 1/2
Money Line: Thunder -140 / Mavericks +120

Kevin Durant and the Thunder take on teh Mavericks in game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in Oklahoma City with the series tied 1-1. The Thunder are a 2 1/2 point favorites at home.

In Thursday’s game 2 of this series, a remarkable streak was snapped. The Dallas Mavericks had covered the point spread in 15 consecutive games, including an impressive 11-0 in the play-offs. However,¬† a fourth quarter surge by the Thunder, led to them pulling off the 106-100 upset to even up the series 1-1 as the series shifts to Oklahoma City for game 3.

The big story for the Thunder is point guard Russell Westbrook was benched for the entire fourth quarter after showing up his teammates after one of them botched a play that coach Scott Brooks called. Westbrook launched into a profanity laced tirade at his teammate that lasted so long that Brooks had to send assistant coach Mo Cheeks over to console Westbrook. By the end of the game, Westbrook was cheering on his teammates and said all the right things after the game. He said he didn’t care about being benched because the Thunder won the game. However, it will be interesting to see what his body language is like for game 3. Westbrook finished game 2 with 18 points on 7 for 15 shooting along with 3 rebounds and 4 assists. He had 4 turnovers.

While Dallas won game 1 on the strength of their bench, it was the opposite in game 2. While Kevin Durant scored an efficient 24 points on 11 for 23 shooting to lead the Thunder, the OKC bench scored 50 points in game 2 led by James Harden and back-up point guard Eric Maynor. Harden scored 23 points on 6 for 9 shooting, and added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. He is listed as probable for game 3 with a head injury. Maynor added 13 points, on 5 for 9 shooting. No other Thunder player scored more than 8 points. Thunder shot almost 56% from the field including 7 for 18 from 3-point range. They made 21 for 26 from the free throw line. OKC had 39 rebounds, 17 assists, and 14 turnovers. Oklahoma City had 10 fast break points, and 38 points in the paint.

The Dallas bench only scored 29 points in game 2 after scoring 53 in game 1. Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t quite as dominant as he was in game 1. He still scored 29 points on 10 for 17 shooting, and made 9 out of 10 free throws. Late in the game, he was fouled on a 3 point shot. He missed the second of 3 free throws, but had made 38 straight free throws before that. Center Tyson Chandler added 15 points, and 13 rebounds. He was 5 fro 10 from the field. Jason Kidd scored¬† 13 points on 4 for 10 shooting, and added 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals. Back-up point guard J.J. Barea scored 11 points off the bench. The Mavericks shot only 44% from the field in game 2, including 9 for 27 from 3-point range. The Mavs made 21 for 24 from the free throw line. Dallas also had 37 rebounds, 18 assists, and 12 turnovers. They had 13 fast break points and 40 points in the paint.

Dallas has won 7 of the last 12 straight-up against Oklahoma City but the Thunder are 8-4 ATS in those games. The over is 7-5 in those games.

The Oklahoma City crowd, always one of the loudest in the NBA should be at an especially fevered pitch considering the magnitude of the game. That is if the game goes off, as the end of the world is scheduled for right around tip-off. Oklahoma City has a great chance to take control of the series, if Westbrook isn’t sulking after being benched in game 2. Even worse would be if Westbrook decides to overcompensate by shooting 30 times. Though the Thunder are very young and very talented, they have a great chance of winning the NBA title if the temperamental Westbrook can control his emotions and egomania.

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