Depth, defense have given Dallas Mavericks edge vs. OKC. Can they deliver finishing blow?

The end of Game 4 had the potential to be a franchise-altering defeat if the Mavericks couldn’t retake control of their Western Conference Semifinals series against Oklahoma City.

Dallas controlled that game for nearly 40 minutes only to watch its offense go cold in the final five minutes of the fourth as the young Thunder were able to steal a game at American Airlines Center.

However, thanks to superstar Luka Doncic and another strong defensive performance Wednesday in the Mavs’ 104-92 win in Game 5, now the Mavericks are presented with an opportunity to finally put Oklahoma City away and take one step closer to a NBA Finals appearance.

Game 5 should’ve been the series-clinching win, but that’s in the past, all that matters now is that the Mavericks finish the job in Game 6 at 7 p.m. Saturday. And there are a multitude of reasons why the Mavericks should feel confident they’ll get the job done this time on their home court.

It all starts with Doncic, who is coming off one of his best outings this postseason. Doncic had his way with OKC’s Lu Dort, one of the NBA’s top perimeter defenders, as he scored 31 points while knocking down five 3-pointers and adding 11 assists and 10 rebounds in Game 5.

It was his second straight triple-double and, unlike Game 4, Doncic avoided costly turnovers that consistently led to Thunder points in transition. The 3-point shooting was the most encouraging sign from Doncic as he knocked down five of his 11 attempts.

After shooting 39% in the regular season, Doncic’s shooting from beyond the arc has plummeted to 28% in the postseason. Dort deserves credit for consistently forcing Doncic into contested step-back jumpers, but it’s also no secret the amount of nagging injuries Doncic is fighting through, including pain to both ankles and more.

It says a lot about the superstar guard that he can average 23.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 8.4 assists and have that be considered a down series by his standards. But closeout games has been an area where Doncic has played his best. Doncic is averaging over 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in closeout games during his young postseason career.

A signature Doncic closeout performance would be huge for Dallas, but Doncic isn’t the only Maverick that’s elite in these situations. Kyrie Irving is a perfect 13-0 in closeout games in his postseason career, the best mark in NBA history.

Like Doncic, Irving hasn’t had his best series as OKC has limited him to 12 points or less three times in a five games, but Irving has shown time and time again how comfortable he is in these moments. The most encouraging thing for Dallas has been how Irving has stay engaged and found other ways to help the team win like with his defense and playmaking even while he’s not putting up big scoring numbers.

Irving and Doncic have yet to have one of those games where they both go off for 30 or more this series, but if there’s a time for the dynamic duo to come together it’s now.

However, arguably the biggest reason Dallas should feel confident going into Game 6 is the fact they don’t need Irving and Doncic to combine for 60-plus points to win. It would make things a lot easier and be more entertaining, but the Mavs’ depth has been impressive all postseason.

P.J. Washington has been an excellent floor spacer, defender and has brought some much needed toughness to the roster along with veteran big man Daniel Gafford. OKC’s Chet Holmgren may be the best individual big in this series, but the trio of Washington, Gafford and rookie big man Dereck Lively have dominated the battle in the paint and on the glass.

Explosive wing Derrick Jones Jr. may be playing the best basketball of his career, scoring 36 points in the last two postseason games. From his tenacious defense to highlight alley-oop dunks, Jones has been the perfect wing to pair with Irving and Doncic.

Even Tim Hardaway Jr. has had some good moments this series despite dealing with an ankle injury. Whether it’s the superstars, the depth or the defense the Mavericks have everything at their disposal to not only defeat Oklahoma City, but also to continue this run past the Western Conference Finals.

All they have to do is handler their business.