Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle insists he's not posturing for more calls from officials, but so far the Mavs have headed to the free-throw line far more frequently in their playoff series against the Thunder than during the regular season.
Primarily a jump-shooting team, Dallas averaged 20.2 free throws per game during the regular season.
The Mavs are averaging 28.5 free throws per game so far in the playoffs with 25 attempts in Game 1 and 32 in Game 2.
Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, the player Carlisle constantly says warrants more free throws, is 20 for 21 (.952) from the line thus far.
OKC is a team that penetrates and led the league in free-throw attempts this season at 26.4 per game.
The Thunder is averaging 29.5 free throws so far in the series with 20 in Game 1 and 39 in Game 2.
OKC was whistled for three fouls in the first 46 seconds of the third quarter, two by Serge Ibaka, who was sent to the bench. The Mavs were in the bonus with 8:50 still left in the period and shot.
Thunder forward Nick Collison fouled out with 9:00 left in the game.
In their 102-99 loss to the Thunder in Game 2, the Mavericks outscored OKC 40-18 in the paint and 17-6 in second-chance points thanks to a 12-5 advantage in offensive rebounds. The Thunder had a 12-6 advantage in fast-break points. … OKC shot 54.1 percent in the first half and 33.3 percent in the second half to finish at 44.8 percent (30 for 67) from the field. The Thunder started out the third quarter 1 for 11 from the field. … The Mavs shot 46.2 percent in the first half and 37.5 percent in the second half to finish at 41.8 percent (33 for 79). … OKC turned 14 Dallas turnovers into 21 points. The Mavs scored 16 points off 16 Thunder turnovers.
Dallas lost Game 1 on Saturday night with 1.5 seconds left after a kind bounce on Kevin Durant's 15-footer rainbow jumper.
On Sunday night, the Memphis Grizzlies lost at home after blowing a 27-point lead to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder previously has experienced both types of defeats in the playoffs – getting eliminated against the Lakers with 0.5 seconds left in Game 6 at home two years ago; blowing a 15-point lead in Game 4 last year at home against Dallas.
Which is tougher to take – a loss in the final seconds or blowing a huge lead?
“Whoa,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, trying to decide. “The easy thing to say is, ‘They're both tough.' The hardest thing to do is to move on quickly, because every game is a new game. There are new dynamics in every game. You have to move on quickly. Whether you win or whether you lose, that last game has no bearing and you have to focus on that.
“Either one, there's no sleeping that night. There's no sleeping and you say a prayer for the coaches.”
There has been a steady flow of mix-and-match defensively for the Thunder with players taking turns on various Dallas players.
“That's the flexibility and the luxury that we have,” Brooks explained. ‘We can throw different guys at different players. Russell (Westbrook) can guard ones and twos. Thabo (Sefolosha) can guard ones, twos and threes. (Kendrick) Perkins and Serge can guard each other's man and we like that. When you talk about a great player and you can put the same player on him for 40 minutes, great players figure it out.
“(Dallas sixth man) Jason Terry is a great player. He's a big-time, clutch player and if you have the same player on him he somehow, some way always figures it out.”
Two years ago, the Thunder was the youngest team in the NBA playoffs going against the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers.
This year, OKC is still young, but more experienced and going against the defending world champion Dallas Mavericks.
Asked to explain the coaching difference between the two, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said: “The Lakers series, we didn't know what to expect. We were trying to trick you guys (reporters) into thinking that we did, but we didn't know what to expect. We were 20 years old and playing the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I think all of us (coaches) feel good in what we're doing. It doesn't guarantee that we're going to win the series, but we know how to win. We know what to expect in the playoffs.”
Brooks when asked if he noticed Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, dancing during a timeout in Game 1, which the Thunder eventually won 99-98 on her son's jumper with 1.5 seconds left: “After the game, I was about to dance with her. That would have been a sight. I have no skills.”
Carlisle said before the game backup point guard Rodrigue Beaubois could see more minutes as the series continues.
Beaubois, who originally was drafted by the Thunder with the 25th pick in 2009, did not play in Game 1, but made his first appearance with 5:48 remaining in the second quarter of Game 2. He played five minutes and did not score.
“He's ready to play,” Carlisle said. “It's possible. If the situation presents itself, he'll be in there. It's one of the first times we've had all our guards healthy in a while.”