The OKC Thunder were able to steal home court away from the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals by shooting 56% from the field - a high for a Dallas opponent this season. Coupled with their 112 points and 47% shooting in Game 1, they had disrupted the Mavs' defensive flow. Through their first two series, Dallas had held the Blazers and Lakers under 100 points in all ten games and to an 88-point average overall. The Thunder averaged 109 in their first two games.
It was no surprise that Rick Carlisle, Tyson Chandler and the rest of the Mavs highlighted defense as their primary concern for Game 3, and, after their defense had led them to a tie for most road wins in the NBA this season, they found that level once again on the road, holding OKC to 37% shooting and 87 points. Scott Brooks was overheard by ESPN's huddle mic early in the game imploring his players to play with confidence, after the swarming Mavs veterans rushed out to a 35-12 lead. The Mavericks had a fairly cold game themselves, shooting 44% and seeing Dirk Nowitzki shoot just 7-21, but, as the old NBA tenet goes, you can bring defense with you on the road. Dallas did just that.
They also continued a pleasant reversal of their recent playoff road woes. Entering Game 6 of the Portland series, Dallas was 2-18 in their last 20 playoff road games and had lost eight in a row. A series-clinching win in that game started what is now a four-game winning streak. They will look to extend that streak Monday and take a stranglehold on this series.