What Did Game One Really Mean?

Apr 28, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) and Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the fourth quarter in game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Dallas played Oklahoma City way closer than most people thought they would in Game 1, which makes their last-second loss all the more heart-breaking.

It's funny how much it stings.

The good news is, that was a great game. It was close the whole time. The Mavs held leads for a lot of it, and clawed back when they didn't.

That's good news because most people -not us-assumed the Mavericks would be run out of the gym.

And yet, still. After they let a seven point lead with 3:23 left go, after Ian Mahimni, who had a truly terrible game, hit both his free throws to take it back, after Dirk made two with 9 seconds left to take a one-point lead.

After Terry was absolutely unconscious, hitting 8-10, 4-5 from three. After Marion hit 3 three pointers, and Jason Kidd got 7 steals, and Vince Carter had some nifty drives in traffic, and Delonte West got through his illness just enough to hit a big three-

The Thunder, tonight, were what they were supposed to be. Too athletic. Too good at drawing fouls. Too much firepower.
In the end it doesn't matter how lucky a bounce is. The Mavericks, with contributions from everybody, with nearly the best game they could possibly play, are now down 0-1, with another game in OKC tomorrow.

Boy, does it sting.

Not because the Mavs lost. But because they could have had this one, with one more bounce, one more obvious foul not missed, and probably most of all, one less late game turnover, and could have been up 1-0 on OKC in OKC except for one lucky bounce.

A couple of lucky bounces anyway.

As of this second one of two things are true. Either the Mavs, with a depleted defense, are not able to do enough to stop the Durant-Westbrook-Harden trifecta, and this will be a short series. It's a likely enough possibility. The centers did an especially poor job today, and though Marion harassed Durant into a fairly typical Marion-Harassed Kevin Durant 10-27, he still got 25.

And no one harassed Westbrook (13-23 for 27) or Harden (4-7, 9-10 from the line, 19 points) into anything. So, then, the Mavs, having spent their silver bullet against a werewolf that just kept coming aren't likely to play out their playoff spring much longer.

Or, just possibly: a healthy Delonte West (on offense and on defense against Westbrook) coupled with the fact that Serge Ibaka probably won't shoot 9-12 again (Ibaka-Harden were 13-19 tonight), and the fact that the Scott Brooks-Rick Carlisle is roughly Rocky v. Bullwinkle in the smarts department, and the fact that Dirk can still get his when he wants it and Durant can't necessarily, will make up for the fact that the Mavericks couldn't capitalize on Terry's great shooting night, and Marion's big threes. The C's don't have to go 1-8 against Perkins, and Carter and Kidd don't have to go 2-8 and 5-14 respectively.

In that world, maybe Dirk's 8-18, after starting 1-7, could get a couple more shot attempts, at least. Maybe we could give up a couple less and-ones. And maybe we'll be a little more judicious about those timeouts, eh Rick?

Good game. Great game. I wish we'd gotten good news rather than bad.

But that's why they play the games.

See y'all Monday.

For more of Andrew's coverage of the Mavericks, head over to Mavs Moneyball.

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