Can Rick Carlisle Slow Down the Dynamic Duo of Durant and Westbrook?
*Photo via BallisLife.com
The NBA Playoffs have arrived and the number three seed, Oklahoma City Thunder, will face off against the sixth seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Thunder clinched a playoff berth well over a month ago, but Dallas hasn't had that kind of a season. The Mavericks, mainly due to injuries,
faltered late in the season, but won seven out of their last ten games to get the sixth seed.
The Thunder are heavily favored in this matchup as the Thunder won 55 games this season, while the Mavericks barely cracked 40 with 42 wins on the season. 21 ESPN experts picked the Thunder to come away with the series and 12 of them predicted the series ending as quickly as five games.
Everyone believes that the Thunder will come away with the series, but do the Mavs have an outside chance of an upset. Can Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks slow down the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant?
*Photo via Mavs.com
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant both had a great season, particularly Westbrook. He averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game while leading the NBA on triple doubles. Kevin Durant averaged 28.2 points per game to go along with 5 assists and 8.2 rebounds. It's safe to say that the Mavericks won't stop these two, but they can possibly slow them down.
The Mavericks can try to slow down the pace against these two stars. With Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks are capable of playing a slower pace, which will cause frustration for Westbrook, who's an uptempo guard. The Mavericks can shoot the ball well as they shot 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from three (stats.nba.com), so if they can control pace, they have a chance of making the game closer.
The Mavericks are also going to need big performances from their perimeter defenders, but mainly from center Zaza Pachulia. Pachulia has had one of his better seasons as he averaged 8.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, but he's going to have to be a rim protector against Westbrook. Pachulia is a decent defender and along with Dirk, can cause some problems in the paint for Westbrook.
The Mavericks are going to have a tough time dealing with Westbrook and Durant, but they need to focus on the Thunder's role players. Durant and Westbrook are going to get theirs eventually, but if the Mavs can limit the others from getting involved, they can make it an interesting series.
Tonight is Game 1 of their matchup, so stay tuned to see what strategies Rick Carlisle implements against these two offensive juggernauts.
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