The best game of the first day of the 2012 NBA playoffs left play-by-play announcers Mike Tirico of ESPN and Brian Davis of Fox Sports Oklahoma screaming as Kevin Durant's jump shot gave the Thunder the 99-98 victory.
ESPN had just shown a replay of Durant's 3-point shot that beat the Mavericks in the regular season.
Tirico: “And the Thunder wins! Durant beats them again!”
Davis: “It's over! It's over! The Mavericks were forced into a panicked possession. The Thunder came roaring back down the stretch to take the first game.”
ESPN analyst Hubie Brown credited Durant for not only make the game-winning spot but for two crucial assists in the final two minutes. “Give him credit,” Brown said. “The great ones always rise to the occasion because they want the pressure.”
Davis said the three-time scoring champion, who had struggled from the field, was due to get a shooter's roll, noting “sometimes you do get a little bit of love from the rim.”
On the Thunder postgame show, radio voice Matt Pinto discussed the “phenomenal shot.” “He got the home-cooking roll. Loud City was never louder when the shot went down. … It was a soft touch, which is what his cotton candy stroke is all about.”
BROWN ON TOP OF GAME
Brown, a former coach, was at the top of his game in broadcasting the first game of the Mavericks-Thunder series Sunday night with Tirico and sideline reporter Heather Cox.
Near the end of the first half, Tirico, one of the best play-by-play guys around, even asked him, “When it comes to the playoffs, do you miss anything?”
“Not much,” said Brown, a former head coach with the Kentucky Colonels of the NBA and the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA.
“Let me tell ya. It's so exciting to be here. The atmosphere is the best in the league. The people are wonderful. Dallas is playing its best basketball, and it's like a chess match. You read the zone, the man-to-man.”
Brown did an excellent job of explaining the Mavs' matchup zone and how the Thunder should attack it. “Like we've been saying, you get it into the paint with the pass or the dribble.”
Brown had high praises for numerous Thunder players, including James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Durant. After Harden had drawn a foul on a drive in the second quarter, Brown said, “I just love his game. He understands the game. He reads the creases in the defenses. Him being left-handed, he has a beautiful stride and he can play the glass extremely well. A very, very intelligent young man.”
He noted Durant's improved passing skills. “I love Kevin Durant's game right now. He says the game has slowed down to me. He sees many things when he's dribbling.”
** Brown referred to the Thunder as Oklahoma at least twice and Cox did it once.
** FSOK's coverage included several shots of the thousands of fans gathered in “Thunder Alley” outside the arena to watch the game on the big screen. The network also had a nice touch by carrying the Thunder pregame introductions, which are not shown in the regular season. The hour pregame show also captured the atmosphere of the game.
** On the ESPN studio show, Magic Johnson lamented Bulls guard Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury. “The league loses because this matchup (Bulls-Heat) was really set up. It would have been one helluva series to see.”