DALLAS, TX–Limiting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a season-low 33.7 percent shooting, the Mavs were shockingly able to steal a victory in Game 2 at OKC after a last-second buzzer-beater by Thunder center Steven Adams was disallowed. It marked the biggest playoff upset by an underdog (-14) in the NBA Playoffs in 20 years, according to ESPN.
“I’m very proud of our guys and the way they responded after one of the most disappointing games in franchise history,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s a group with a lot of pride, and obviously, a lot of resilience.”
After becoming the fourth team in NBA history to win Game 2 of a playoff series after losing Game 1 by 35 or more, the Mavs will once again be faced with an uphill battle with Game 3 ahead at American Airlines Center tonight. Decimated by injuries, leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki is the latest Maverick to come down with an ailment.
Nowitzki suffered a bruised knee early in Game 2, limping his ways to 17 points in 38 minutes. The 37 year-old German now joins Deron Williams (sports hernia), J.J. Barea (right groin strain), David Lee (right heel) and Devin Harris (torn ligament in left thumb) on the Mavs injury list, although he is expected to play.
The burden of Mavericks’ injuries will fall on the shoulders of guard Wesley Matthews. Despite struggling offensively, scoring just six points in 36 minutes of play including 0-7 from behind the three-point arc, Matthews was still able to make a sizable impact in Game 2. He held the NBA’s third leading scorer in the regular season in Kevin Durant to 26 missed shots, marking the worst field goal percentage (21.2%) for a player in a playoff game with a minimum of 30 field goal attempts in the shot clock era. Matthews will once again be called upon tonight to play the role of defensive stopper, with the Mavs hoping to get a much needed boost from him on the offensive end as well.
“He doesn’t get discouraged. He stays with it. He just keeps banging away. That’s why you love him,” Carlisle said of Matthews.
With the early 6 p.m. CT tip-off, Mark Cuban is asking Mavs fans to participate in #MavsSkipDay, hoping the energy of the MFFLs in attendance can help carry the Masking Tape Mavs to victory. With pride and momentum on their side the Mavs must capitalize on a prime opportunity to swing the seven-game series in their favor. Still seen as the clear underdog, the Mavs are in prime position to take the series lead tonight in front of their home fans.
“We haven’t done anything,” Carlisle said. “The goal is to win the series, not just to win one game.”
Tonight’s game can be seen locally on TXA 21 and nationally on TNT.