Dallas Mavericks

Thunder crushes outmanned Mavericks in playoff opener

AP

Well, that didn’t take long.

Seemingly still angry about missing out on last year’s playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder took its anger out on the Dallas Mavericks in a very big way.

The Thunder completely smothered the Mavs in every way possible Saturday night and emerged from Chesapeake Energy Arena with an easy 108-70 rout in Game 1 of this best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Game 2 will be back here Monday night at 7 before the series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4, starting on Thursday.

And if the Mavs don’t find a measurable way of performing better than they did in Game 1, this will likely be a short series.

The Mavs surprisingly had all sort of problems dealing with the Thunder. Dallas shot 29.8 percent from the field and was thoroughly spanked on the boards 56-33.

It was as if the Mavs brought a pair of toothpicks to a fight that wound up being very one-sided.

“I’ve got to get these guys better prepared to play,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s one game, so it’s 1-0.”

It was the fewest points the Mavs have scored in a playoff game, coming in below the 74 they scored in Game 4 of the 2006 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

This was like the Mavs stuck their finger in a hole in the dam and the whole thing burst. And a tidal wave of points and rebounds followed.

The game was so lopsided that OKC led 93-51 after the third quarter. In other words, the Thunder got what they wanted, when they wanted it, and how they wanted it.

“We’re just going to have to find the right tempo, and I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be,’’ Carlisle said before the game. “But I know it’s going to involve taking care of the ball and getting back on defense.

“Of course you want to find great shots as often as you can. I think it’s impossible to play a playoff series and slow the ball just because teams lock in so much defensively that it will be very difficult to get shots, but there is a correct tempo and our task and goal is to find it.”

The Mavs obviously didn’t find that “correct tempo” Saturday as they fell behind 9-0 two minutes into the game and probably won’t play a worst first half than the one they played in Game 1.

In the first half, the Mavs shot 26.2 percent, committed eight turnovers, were outrebounded 30-15, and fell behind by as many as 30 points before the Thunder settled for a 59-33 lead at intermission.

About the only player who put on a decent performance in the first half for Dallas was Dirk Nowitzki. By halftime, Nowitzki was 5 of 10 from the field with 14 points while his teammates were 6 of 32 from the field with 19 points.

Nowitzki finished with 18 points on 7 of 15 shots and played just 25 minutes, including none in the garbage-time fourth quarter. The other four Mavs starters — Wesley Matthews, Salah Mejri, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea —combined for 12 points on 5 of 25 shots.

And the Mavs lost Barea to a strained right groin.

On the flip side, the Thunder roared out of the gate and appeared extremely happy to be back in the playoffs after missing out on last year’s postseason festivities.

In the first half alone, Kevin Durant had 18 points and five rebounds, Russell Westbrook collected 13 points and six assists, Serge Ibaka poured in 11 points, and Enes Kanter came off the bench to toss in 10 points and grab eight rebounds.

But a lot has to change by Monday if the Mavs want to even this series at 1-1.

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

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