Oklahoma City The Oklahoma City Thunder are trying to use the same formula as the Dallas Mavericks to even up the Western Conference finals: Get angry and get a win.
After claiming home-court advantage with a win in Dallas in Game 2, the Thunder got flattened in the first quarter of Game 3 and gave it right back. They fell into a humbling 23-point hole in the first 14 minutes on their home floor, and never could climb their way out of it.
“You lose a home game, you have to be angry,” All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook said Sunday. “You’ve got to take care of home court.”
Dallas used exactly that approach after losing at the American Airlines Center in Game 2 and yielding home-court advantage. The Mavericks intensified their defense, building a 35-12 lead in the first 2 minutes of the second quarter, then turning away a late rally by Oklahoma City for a 93-87 victory.
The Mavs lead 2-1 heading into Game 4 tonight in Oklahoma City.
“If you think about it, this is a must-win at the end of the day,” Thunder guard Daequan Cook said. “If we win tomorrow, it’s a three-game series. Two of the three games are in Dallas, so you want to take advantage of this opportunity to win at home tomorrow night and hopefully go to Dallas and win one, too.”
After yielding only 88.3 points per game through the first two rounds, Dallas had allowed the Thunder to average 109 in the first two games.
Coach Rick Carlisle said he thought the Mavs might have gotten out of their defensive habits because of Oklahoma City’s transition-based, perimeter-oriented offense.
“We’ve got to play with a certain edge. We didn’t do that at home,” Carlisle said. “We were able to recapture it in Game 3, and now we’ve got to keep it with us going forward.”
“It’s hard with the emotional ebbs and flows of a series,” he added. “It’s hard to win and not have a letdown.”