ESPN's studio analysts said the Oklahoma City Thunder's lack of playoff experience hurt them in their Game 3 loss Saturday night.
“They looked like they were kind of tense,” Magic Johnson said of the Thunder's slow start. “They were not in rhythm offensively, and they played no defense.”
Michael Wilbon said he was not surprised by the Thunder's slow start, considering the team's youth, with two of its stars 21 years old and two others 22.
“I don't expect them to play with any savvy and they didn't,” Wilbon said.
Noting the strong play of Mavericks, who have much more playoff experience, Wilbon joked that Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion “together they are about 80 years old with about 400 games of playoff experience.”
Johnson also noted the improved play of Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter.
“He was attacking the rim every time he touched the ball,” Johnson said. “He was scoring at will.”
But Johnson said the Thunder lacked offensive balance. “They needed a third scorer. James Harden had only seven points as the Dallas defense contained him.”
ESPN's cameras did a good job of capturing Thunder coach Scott Brooks' frustration at the end of the first quarter and at halftime.
After the first quarter he told the team, “Defensively, offensively, we're playing with no confidence. You guys are good, play your game.”
At halftime, he told them, “We're a better team than what we're showing. You know it and I know it. We can outscore them by 10 points (in the third quarter), then it's six points going in the fourth quarter and it's our game.”
However, the Thunder picked up only two points in the third quarter before making a late run.
— Game analyst Jeff Van Gundy complimented the loud crowd, comparing it to Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke, but said it wasn't much of a factor. “The building is overrated,” he said. “What it has to do with the game is not really as much as you think.”
— Van Gundy said he believed Harden flopped when Tyson Chandler was called for a technical foul for apparently elbowing Harden. He noted that flopping is a leaguewide problem. “To me when the league office looks at that, they got to start fining them $10,000 to $15,000 or more.” Game analyst Mark Jackson said, “Denzel Washington would have been proud of that play.”
— Because of technical problems, Fox Sports Oklahoma's “Thunder Live” playoff show did not come on the air until 11:17 p.m. Thunder TV analyst Grant Long credited the Mavericks for making adjustments in Game 3. “They double-teamed Kevin Durant right away,” he said, noting they also slowed the Thunder's transition game.
— In the pregame show, the ESPN studio team had fun with what they thought Kevin Durant kept in his infamous backpack. They pulled out Harden's beard, a Slim Jim, a barbell, Durant's video game, a German-English dictionary so Durant could understand Dirk Nowitzki when he trash-talked, three miniature NBA championship trophies and analyst Jon Barry's Milwaukee Bucks jersey and then joked that Nate Robinson also was in the backpack.
— Among the crew's “bold statements,” Wilbon was correct in predicting Thunder guard Eric Maynor would play less than 10 minutes and not at all in the fourth quarter. Johnson was incorrect in predicting Westbrook would have a triple-double, and Barry was off in predicting Kidd would have a triple-double.