The Oklahoma City Thunder might have signed their own death warrants when they blew a 15 point lead with just under five minutes remaining to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night.
The fact that Oklahoma City led for most of the game proves the Thunder are competitive to the Dallas Mavericks and compare well in talent. However, one big difference between the two teams reared its head at the end of the fourth quarter and into the overtime period.
The Dallas Mavericks have a “been here, done that” attitude and Dirk Nowitzki teamed with Jason Kidd to lead the Mavericks to a win they never should have pulled off.
“You always feel like you could have done something, but [Nowitzki] played great,” said Nick Collison after the game. “You have to hand it to him. He played unbelievable down the stretch. He had the one quick 3 and he hadn’t done that all series, where he caught it and shot it right away. He’s an extremely tough cover. We have to stop him one way, stop him another way, stay down on the fake. He’s got so much in his offensive package.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, two men who can honestly be described as the future of the NBA, combined to finish the evening 13-of-32 from the field. The Oklahoma City Thunder scored four points in overtime.
“I let the city down,” Kevin Durant said after the game.
It is true that, while Russell Westbrook gets most of the criticism around Oklahoma City, it is Kevin Durant who has been struggling the most in this series. After a 40 point Game 1, Durant went ice cold from beyond the arch and missed a lot of shots in Game 4 he normally would hit.
“I’m just going to come back next game and play even harder,” Durant said after Game 4. “I think I played hard tonight but push it up another level for these fans.”
However, while Kevin Durant might like to place all the blame on his talented shoulders, there were other areas where Oklahoma City failed in that Game 4 collapse.
The mighty Oklahoma City Thunder bench scored a total of 21 points but only three players chipped in for that total. The amazing bench players who helped led Oklahoma City to a big Game 2 win in Dallas were nowhere to be found in this game. It wasn’t the players fault either as head coach Scott Brooks just didn’t send them into the game.
Brooks utilized Nick Collison to man-up with Dirk Nowitzki and, as a result, he ended up with 12 points and seven rebounds. James Harden, arguably just as important as Westbrook and Durant to this team, scored seven points while pulling down seven rebounds. Other than that, only Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook got any playing time from off the bench. Cook never attempted a shot.
When your two star players shoot 40-percent from the floor and you don’t even try to get a spark from your above average bench; that is a coaching error. Once James Harden fouled out in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City went ice cold. With Durant and Westbrook cold and Scott Brooks ignoring the bench, the Thunder didn’t stand a chance.
“We still have a chance to get to our ultimate goal. That is to get to the Finals and to win a championship,” Scott Brooks said. “Obviously, the odds are against us. But there’s odds. And when you have odds, you still have a chance. And Game 5 is going to be an interesting game. I know our guys. They’re going to look at it as an opportunity to extend it to come back home for Game 6.”
Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Dallas. If Oklahoma City doesn’t fix what ails them fast, this series will be over with just as quick as it begun. Who would have thought that a series that has been this exciting could possibly end up with Dallas winning 4-1?
Make sure to subscribe to Shawn using the button at the top of the page to get Oklahoma City Thunder news as soon as it hits.
- Make sure to follow Shawn on Facebook
- Make sure to follow Shawn on Twitter
- Make sure to follow Shawn on Digg