After four games of ticky-tack fouls, extracurricular actions, whining, complaining, accusations and fines, it’s fair to say that just about everyone is ready to see this series end.
The Thunder and the Mavericks won’t be taking any vacations together this summer, and will likely only play one more basketball game together – a game that will take place Monday night at 7 p.m. in Oklahoma City.
OKC is a two-touchdown favorite to close the series out and it will have plenty of motivation to do so. The Thunder’s second-round opponent, the Spurs, are already through after sweeping the banged-up Grizzlies. San Antonio will gladly rest until the Thunder finish the job. The faster you finish, the more you rest.
So what will it take for OKC to finish said job? Simply put: focus. If Oklahoma City locks in for 48 minutes it’ll have a date with the Spurs.
Dallas’ injuries have been well-documented throughout the series. Not having some of their key guys has left the Mavs with almost zero room for error. It took the worst shooting night of Kevin Durant’s career just to win Game 2 by a point. The Mavs need big nights from Dirk Nowitzki and Raymond Felton, both of whom have played well all series long. Wes Matthews will also need to step up as he did in Game 4 when he scored 19 points.
But that won’t be enough. The Mavs somehow need to prevent Thunder big man Enes Kanter from torching them around the rim. Dallas has no quality bigs and very little rim protection as they are still suffering from the fallout of losing DeAndre Jordan at the midnight hour in the offseason. Kanter has been excellent all series, including scoring 28 points on 12-of-13 shooting in Game 4. If that happens again, Dallas has no shot.
Oklahoma City can get whatever shots it wants against this Dallas defense, as long as the focus is there. If the Thunder can avoid shooting too many lazy, bailout shots, the series should be done on Monday.