Oklahoma City Thunder 95, Dallas Mavericks 79 (Oklahoma City leads series, 3-0)
Sometimes, happily, the expected narrative doesn't work out the way you thought it would. This is not an example of such, because though we're very excited at the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder can't seem to miss a shot these days, we would have much preferred the Dallas Mavericks extend this series in the typical NBA-style.
This was supposed to be a close series, despite the Thunder nearly winning the West's top seed, and the first two games of this battle could have easily gone Dallas' way. And yet, in Game 3, OKC came through with the sort of blowout you usually see at home in one of the first two games. And certainly not on the road, already up 2-0, against the defending champs. This means, at 3-0, this series is effectively over. Again, it wasn't supposed to happen like this.
And the odd part is, though you may disagree, I don't think the Mavericks came out and expected the close results in OKC + home crowd + playoff orthodoxy to ease them into a win. They attempted to win the damn win, and the Thunder just put a halt to it. Fascinating, in this messed up postseason that is somehow way more messed up than the regular season was.
Jason Terry and Vince Carter combined for 5-18 shooting off the bench. Dirk Nowitzki missed three free throws. Shawn Marion missed seven of eight shots, and Jason Kidd put up 12 shots (uh oh) which means he scored 12 points. That's just a whole ton of wasted possessions at the worst possible time for Dallas. Again, this stuff was supposed to happen in Game 2. Not in a situation that makes it so the Mavs have to win four straight just to pull the upset.
Don't expect the Thunder, though they're a young team, to back off now. Usually these sorts of generational shifts happen in the second or third rounds, and Dallas will at least attempt to give it their all in Game 4, but even the smartest and proudest of veteran teams still head into a Game 4 down 0-3 knowing that it's over. You can hustle and fight and want to extend your season but … you know what's up. You know it's over. That's a hard thing to overcome. Don't kill 'em if they can't.
Thirty-one points for Kevin Durant in this win, including 7-9 shooting in the first and fourth quarters combined. Necessary, needed, and on point. Great help defense throughout from the OKC bigs, as well. A fantastic showing from a championship-level team.
Miami 87, New York 70 (Miami leads series, 3-0)
Nobody was wrong in thinking that the New York Knicks could at least compete with the white hot Miami Heat in the first round, but there was no way New York was winning this game. No way the Knicks were going to be able to not only overcome the loss of perimeter defender Iman Shumpert and interior scorer Amar'e Stoudemire, but also the gut-punch mental fatigue that hits when you know you're entering your most important game of the season with two ridiculously important players on the sideline.
This isn't to say New York came out disheartened in Game 3, but they were sluggish enough and despondent enough to let a carefree Heat club take over early, and put the clamps on late. Miami usually tightens up in pressure games like this that they're expected to win, or run away with, but I'm guessing Chris Bosh's late arrival after the birth of his son loosened things up a bit, and they were able to move quickly and attack mercilessly as the Knicks clanged away.
Steve Novak's record-setting three-point shooting was clearly a point of emphasis for the Heat, as they allowed the Knicks sharp-shooter to take (and miss) just two attempts in 22 minutes of play. LeBron James and others hounded Carmelo Anthony as he took 23 shots to score 22 points, with Carmelo disappointingly taking plenty of those look away long bombs from the triple-threat position, and Baron Davis continues to fade away on three-pointers (ohfer three) because he thinks he's going to get his shot blocked. Sigh.
New York finished with 32 percent shooting and 18 turnovers to eight assists, and there was a whole lot of isolation play to (not) go around.
Credit Miami, though, for smelling blood in the water. The team's bench shot terribly (1-12) and LeBron turned it over eight times, but there was so much room for those many errors with that defense clamping down. And Mario Chalmers has hit 14 of his 26 three-point attempts, a 54 percent rate. That's not good news for you, NBA.
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