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  1. Thunder need to be patient, let Westbrook grow into PG they need

    May 26, 2011, 4:02 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five

    People’s impatience is amazing. The Oklahoma City Thunder just went to the Western Conference Finals with a team that had none of its core players over age 22. They are athletic, they played with passion, and while they struggled under the weight of the moment and Mavericks, that is how teams learn to win. Does…

  2. NBA Playoffs: Fittingly Mavericks’ execution sends them to finals

    May 26, 2011, 12:56 AM EDT

    Mavericks' players celebrate against the Thunder during Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoff in Dallas

    It was fitting. Maybe it was the only way it could be, with Dallas coming from behind again. Game 5 was a microcosm of the four before it in the Western Conference finals. Oklahoma City came out and played with energy and passion. Their amazing athleticism caused problems for Dallas, but the Mavericks countered with…

  3. NBA Playoffs: Thunder have fight in them, is that enough?

    May 25, 2011, 5:06 PM EDT

    Mavericks' Nowitzki celebrates near Thunder's Westbrook during NBA Western Conference Final playoff in Oklahoma City

    Do not question the toughness of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Don’t question their heart. No doubt the collapse at the end of Game 4 Monday was ugly, but it was not about toughness. You don’t reach the Western Conference Finals with all your key players 22 or younger without being tough. Without heart. You can…

  4. Video: Watch Nowitzki shred the Thunder

    May 24, 2011, 8:54 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki celebrates defeating the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 2

    It was an epic performance. The Thunder defended him well, but Dirk Nowitzki — the single best player in these playoffs — saved some of his best for the Mavericks fourth-quarter comeback Monday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. Dirk was a machine, and because of it he and the…

  5. NBA Playoffs: Thunder learning lessons. The hard way.

    May 24, 2011, 3:53 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four

    These are hard, painful lessons for the Oklahoma City Thunder. They are the hard, painful lessons virtually every championship team has had to learn. Michael Jordan and his Bulls were knocked out three straight years by the Detroit Pistons, teaching him hard lessons. It’s true of champions since. Even the two-time, soon-to-be-dethroned Lakers had to…

  6. NBA Playoffs: Efficient Westbrook, Thunder need to show up

    May 23, 2011, 4:10 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Six

    Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are putting up numbers against the Dallas Mavericks: Durant is averaging 29.3 point per game (up from his league-leading 27.7 during the regular season), while Westbrook is at 22.7 per game. But they are not efficient about it. Durant is shooting 44 percent and is 2-of-18 from three. Westbrook is…

  7. NBA Playoffs: Mavericks defense looks good thanks to Thunder offense

    May 22, 2011, 1:41 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

    “Tonight we played championship-level defense for the first time in the series,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the game in an interview broadcast on NBA TV. Maybe. But the Oklahoma City Thunder really helped them out with that — it’s a lot easier to cover a guy who is standing still. And the Thunder…

  8. No grand conspiracy, Scott Brooks just rode hot hand

    May 20, 2011, 12:20 PM EDT

    Scott Brooks

    Today, Thunder coach Scott Brooks is getting lots and lots of praise for leaving his bench (with Kevin Durant) out on the court throughout the fourth quarter. Some see it as a rebuke of Russell Westbrook, some as Brooks asserting his authority. Not from where I sit. To me it’s more simple and pragmantic —…

  9. New, quieter Mark Cuban still doesn’t like referees

    May 20, 2011, 10:48 AM EDT

    Mark Cuban

    Mark Cuban still is not talking to the media during these playoffs — unless you want to hear how ABC picked up Shark Tank for 13 more episodes — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t talking. And it doesn’t mean he is happy with the officiating. Did you really expect him to be? Tim MacMahon…

  10. Video: Kevin Durant’s monster, win-sparking slam

    May 20, 2011, 8:47 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Two

    The best line I read about this dunk (and I couldn’t find the tweet later to credit the person) was that Kevin Durant used Brendan Haywood as his own personal Kia. The Thunder were struggling and this dunk sparked them and was the first step to them evening this series. One dunk does not a…

  11. NBA Playoffs: Can anyone slow Nowitzki, Durant?

    May 19, 2011, 3:08 PM EDT

    Mavericks forward Nowitzki shoots a fade-away jump shot in the second half against Oklahoma during Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Final basketball playoff in Dallas

    One player does not win a basketball game. But if Dallas or Oklahoma City can figure out a way to slow the other’s star player in this series — starting with Game 2 Thursday night — they will have a huge leg up. Because in Game 1 those two pretty much scored like Wilt in…

  12. NBA Playoffs: Thunder should be optimistic, they were in it

    May 18, 2011, 1:04 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Durant drives ball past Dallas Mavericks small forward Marion in Dallas

    It was close. After Kevin Durant drained two free throws it was a five-point Mavericks lead with 4:18 left. Get a stop, knock down a shot and it’s a one possession game. Tuesday’s Dallas win didn’t feel close — Dirk Nowitzki went off, the Mavs got 53 points from its bench and with each big…

  13. Video: Dirk Nowitzki could not miss

    May 18, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game One

    Dirk Nowitzki has been special these playoffs, but what he did Tuesday night was on another level — 48 points on just 15 shots. He got 24 trips to the line, hit all 24 shots. There was a lot more to the Mavericks win. And this series is far from over. But it’s worth watching…

  14. NBA Playoffs: Dirk dominates, but this series is just getting started

    May 18, 2011, 1:22 AM EDT

    Dirk Nowitzki

    Coming into this game the biggest matchup issue, the biggest strategy question that both teams faced was “Who can stop Dirk Nowitzki or Kevin Durant?” Turns out nobody. Durant had 40 points on just 18 shots — and he was the second best player in the game. And his team lost. Nowitzki finished a redonkulous…

  15. NBA Playoffs: Stopping Durant, Nowitzki just the start for Mavs, Thunder

    May 17, 2011, 4:13 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki celebrates defeating the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 2

    It starts with the big questions — if the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder can’t answer those questions, the little ones will not matter. That leads us to the big things to watch in Game 1 between the Thunder and Mavericks Tuesday night — can Dallas slow Kevin Durant, and can Oklahoma City slow…

  16. Can the Thunder slow down Dirk Nowitzki?

    May 16, 2011, 7:16 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks Nowitzki celebrates hitting a three-point shot in the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Dallas

    He has been the best player in the playoffs so far —26.5 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting, 60 percent from three. He destroyed Pau Gasol in the second round. And outside of hiring Jeff Gillooly, there may not be a good way for the Oklahoma City Thunder to slow down Dirk Nowitzki. Not…

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