Push Comes To Shove For Thunder-Mavs
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
The once proud Dallas Mavericks have been reduced to whining about how physical the Oklahoma City Thunder have been in this playoff series and especially in Game 3.
Even when fully healthy this year’s Mavs team didn’t stand too much of a chance against the younger, faster more talented Thunder so now they’re crying foul.
Fouls that should have been called in Game 3 but weren’t.
“There were four of what I would categorize as non-basketball physical altercations initiated by them,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Friday. “Including one intentional, unprovoked elbow at the free throw line which I didn’t understand. And I’ve never seen a guy like Kevin Durant do that to a player.”
That thrown elbow went mostly unnoticed during the game but once the Mavs pointed it out to the NBA office it resulted in a technical foul against Durant for “physical taunting.” It will also probably result in some early whistles during tonight’s game to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
Carlisle has complained before about the physical play of the Thunder or “dirty” play as some would probably call it Carlisle included.
“There’s no place for that in our game, but they were clearly the initiators (Thursday night).”
Funny how things like this work.
After the Thunder’s Game 1 beat down of the Mavericks it was Carlisle who said his team had to be more aggressive in Game 2.
That increased aggression began even before the opening tip Monday night in OKC when Charlie Villanueva and Justin Anderson walked across the center court line and into the dance routine of Russell Westbrook and Cameron Payne.
Their aggression continued through the night, with tough physical play going up against Durant who had his worst shooting night ever.
In response to that Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, “There’s gamesmanship that goes inside the game that we’ve got to stay above and just concentrate on the things we’ve got to do. Dallas is a very physical team, they make it hard on you.”
Bottom line, there’s been plenty of pushing and shoving and talking. It is the NBA Playoffs after-all and things tend to get chippy fast even between guys that off the court tend to like and respect each other.
“Games 1 and 2 you’re kind of feeling each other out,” said Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki, “by Game 3 you pretty much hate each other.”
Which brings us to Game 4.
The Thunder haven’t responded to Carlisle’s dirty play accusations, OKC held its media availability a bit earlier in the day than the Mavericks. Durant usually speaks to reporters after shootaround so we’ll see if he has a response or will just let his actions say it for him during the game tonight.
The Mavs only chance appears to be to get into the Thunder’s heads and then try to ugly the game up, much like they did in Monday’s 85-84 Dallas win.
Keep in mind the Thunder have never lost a playoff series when they won two of the first three games (5-0).
Tipoff is set for tonight at 7:10, you can see it on either Fox Sports Oklahoma or ESPN.