Still glowing from winning a Sports Emmy Award win as best studio analyst, TNT analyst Charles Barkley called the Thunder-Mavericks series over after the Thunder took a 2-0 lead in the series. But Barkley didn't sing the praises of the Thunder, instead noting the Mavericks' weaknesses.
“I like Oklahoma City,” he said. “I pull for Scott Brooks and Maurice Cheeks, two old teammates. But their flaws … Those jump shots when they go deep into the playoffs are going to come back and bite them. When those jump shots don't fall, that's going to be their downfall.”
At halftime, Barkley already was handing the first-round series to the Thunder.
“Dallas can't beat them,” he said, noting he had gotten a sense of the series in watching the first two games. “
Dallas can't beat them four times.”
He noted the Mavericks weren't the same team that won the NBA championship last season.
“They miss DeShawn Stephenson and Tyson Chandler,” he said. “I told all my friends they got no chance.”
In winning the Emmy, Barkley beat out Cris Collinsworth (HBO/NBC), Jay Bilas (ESPN), Jeff Hammond (FOX) and Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN).
At halftime, analyst Kenny Smith discussed Dirk Nowitzki's altercation with Kendrick Perkins in the first quarter in which both received technical fouls.
“The playoffs are about posturing and it's about intimidation and it's about skill. You can't fall short in any of those areas if you want to win an NBA championship.”
At the time, Fox Sports Oklahoma analyst Grant Long placed a lot of the blame for the altercation on Nowitzki, whom he said was out of control. “Don't be surprised if Nowitzki is trying to get these guys riled up, trying to be the agitator and trying to get under the skin of Perkins or (Serge) Ibaka.”
BIG LETDOWN IN BOOTH
TNT's crew assignment of play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin, analyst Mike Fratello, “the czar of the telestrator,” and sideline reporter Marty Snyder was a big letdown after Game 1 in which ESPN assigned the stellar team of Mike Fratello, Hubie Brown and Heather Cox to the game. Devlin made such an impression on TNT that his name was misspelled in its bottom line — Delvin.
FSOK's crew of Brian Davis, Long and Kelly Crull provided better insight as I switched back and forth between the telecasts.
Devlin and Fratello marveled at the Thunder crowd during the team's 11-1 run late in the first quarter. “What a great scene here in Oklahoma City, one of the great venues in the NBA.”
“It reminds me of when Sacramento was really good with the great teams with (Vlade) Divac and (Chris) Webber,” Fratello said. “They had great crowds.”
Fratello rarely used the telestrator Monday night, but he had a nice illustration showing Westbrook shadowing Jason Terry in the first half.
*Late in the third quarter, TNT had a nice “inside Trax” segment with Thunder coach Scott Brooks imploring his team to shoot better as the Thunder struggled through a 5 of 19 shooting quarter. “We're missing shots that are wide open,” he said. “Keep your head up. Keep your spirits up.”
*Fratello on Nowitzki: “He is as tough mentally as they come. He's never going to get old. He just keeps playing at the same level.”
*Long credited the Thunder's team defense in clamping down on the Mavericks shooters in the final two minutes.