Kevin Durant hit a last second jump shot in Game 1 of the Oklahoma City Thunder's first round NBA playoff game with the Dallas Mavericks and the Thunder hope this will swing the momentum into Oklahoma City's favor.
While the Thunder had beaten the Mavericks in three of their four 2011-12 regular season meetings, the playoff series was anything but guaranteed for Oklahoma City. Dallas has the experience and beat the Thunder in the 2011 Western Conference Finals in five games. Despite the first game win, the Thunder still need to worry about these tenacious Mavericks.
Oklahoma City does have the advantage now this year, beating the Mavericks, 99-98, in Game 1 of the series. In 2011, Dallas took Game 1 and Oklahoma City had to fight from behind, winning Game 2 before losing the final three as Dallas headed into the NBA Finals, where they beat the Miami Heat in six games.
One positive for the Thunder is the smart play of the young Oklahoma City franchise. In 2011, too much talk focused on the alleged rift between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on who the team's main star would be. In 2012, it isn't about either man, but about the team play of the Thunder. In Game 1, Westbrook scored 28, Durant finished with 25, Serge Ibaka put up a career-high tying 22 and James Harden added 19 from the bench.
That was a dominant team effort.
However, Dallas led the entire game until the end when the Thunder surged from behind for the win. Dirk Nowitzki continues to will Dallas to the brink of victory, scoring 25 points in the first game, while hitting 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. It was the bench that kept frustrating the Thunder as Jason Terry came in and scored 20 points and Vince Carter added 13.
Oklahoma City finally limited their turnovers but needs to continue to work on that as they head into Game 2, back at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City. The Thunder have to hope they won't need a last second miracle in Game 2 because Dallas is just too good to continue to play close. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. CT.
Author Shawn S. Lealos has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma (2000) and is an avid sports fan that has lived in Oklahoma for over 40 years. He used to religiously follow the Dallas Mavericks until Oklahoma City found a team to call their own.