An Epic NBA Playoff Collapse: Five Reasons the Thunder Lost to Dallas
By now you have heard the news already. Last night’s Dallas Mavericks come-from-behind win over the Oklahoma City Thunder was the first time in 15 years that a team ever lost after having a 15-point lead with less than five minutes left in an NBA Playoff game.
Needless to say, what happened to the Thunder was epic. What’s amazing about this is that it was almost nearly a 100% offensive-related collapse that happened to the playoffs most offensively prolific team. If you told me that during any stretch in which Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were both on the court for 5 minutes and the Thunder would manage to score just 2 points in that amount of time, I might have smacked you in the face—it’s just that unbelievable…or at least it was.
So how did it happen? How did the Thunder blow a 15-point lead with 4:33 left on the clock?
Oh let me count the ways…
1. James Harden fouling out with a dumb foul: It’s one thing to foul out with 4:33 left on the clock in a game that your team must have, but it’s an entirely moronic thing to do it when you’re the length of the court away from the basketball goal that you are defending. Harden made a silly play by fouling Dirk Nowitzki on the other side of half-court. Not only did that give the Mavericks a free two points, but it also sent the Thunder’s third-best scorer to the bench. For the rest of the game, Durant was the lone wing man that could do anything, forcing Russell Westbrook into a compromising position when the Mavs denied Durant the basketball. As you can imagine, the Thunder’s offense was extinct from that point on, and Durant managed not to score in the final 4:33.
2. The opposite of heady plays: It’s a hard thing to pick-in on, but when you’re up by 15 points with 5 minutes to go, you’re not the one that’s supposed to be playing basketball out of desperation. With the ball going out of bounds, Westbrook tried to dive off the court and save it. Heady play, right? Except for the fact that the ball was last touched by Dallas and it didn’t even look like it was debatable. The end result was that in his effort to save the ball, Westbrook was called for stepping out and the Mavericks retained possession. Again, it’s hard to pick on Westbrook for hustling, but it’s the “not even close” replay that makes his decision look iffy.
3. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: You don’t blow leads like this by playing sound basketball. It seemed like Westbrook couldn’t wait to give the ball back every opportunity he had the chance to do so, as he turned it over twice in the last 7 minutes. Kevin Durant though was just as kind, turning the ball over 9 times in total, including a crucial turnover in the last five minutes, when Shawn Marion just seemed to be in Durant’s head.
4. Another dumb, “I can’t believe you did that,” foul: God bless Nick Collinson’s heart, because he is doing his absolute best to defend Nowitzki, but with less than 10 seconds to go and up by two points, you can’t foul him. You just can’t do it. First of all, he’s not quick enough to drive on Collinson, so immediately, fouling Dirk should never come into play in that situation—simply back off of him. Now, I know giving him the jumper is not likely a successful strategy either, but in times of need, you go with the odds, and sending Dirk to the free throw line, where he can tie the game with 7 seconds left, just doesn’t fall in the category.
5. Horrible all-around shot selection: Forget the fact that Thabo Sefolosha was taking game-deciding shots with 20 seconds left, the fact that the Thunder took only two shots within 15 feet of the rim during the last 10 minutes, or the fact that Westbrook missed six shots in the last 5 minutes of the game—what the hell was Durant doing with that final shot? Who pulls up for a contested 35-footer? And what kind of 6’11 wingman gets blocked when he doesn’t. Talk about not using your height! The fact that Durant couldn’t get a better shot up in that situation is nobody’s but his own. He has to do a better job of freeing himself up, and he shouldn’t even catch the ball that far away from the rim in that situation.
No related posts.