And his passes. Don't forget the passes. Dallas double-teamed more than ever in Game 3. Double-teamed not just Durant, but James Harden, too. The Mavs trapped on the wing and tried to make the OKC scorers give up the ball.
“We missed some opportunities to hit the bigs rolling” to the basket, Brooks said. “Held the ball a second too long. Double teams are a gamble. We have to take advantage by moving the ball quickly. Kevin and Russell (Westbrook) and James have to move the ball quicker.”
The Mavericks limited Durant's space. Got in his grill. Even when Durant had an occasional open look, he was off. You could tell on his first two shots his rhythm was off. Then Durant's third shot was an air-ball from 25 feet.
As Durant learned against Memphis, you've got to stand up to bullies.
“Be more aggressive,” Durant said, using short, declarative sentences that are not his usual speech pattern. “It's simple. Be more aggressive before and after I get the ball.
“We gotta be the first hitters. Gotta come out aggressive, no matter what. And that starts with me.”
Durant has gone from 40 points on 13-of-25 shooting in Game 1, to 24 points on 11-of-23 shooting in Game 2, to the Game 3 fiasco. That's similar to the Dirk Nowitzki trek for Dallas: 48 points on 12-of-15 shooting in Game 1, 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting in Game 2, 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting in Game 3.
If this trend holds, both Durant and Dirk might be deactivated if there's a Game 7. “I think that's playoff basketball,” Brooks said of the wide variance in performance. “It's a physical game.”
But Dallas can survive Nowitzki off nights better than the Thunder can handle Durant off nights. The Mavs have more secondary scorers.
The Thunder needs Durant to be his old self, in production if not personality, else wave good-bye to the boys Monday night.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.