With game five of the Western Conference Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder coming up tonight, I talked to Royce Young of Daily Thunder to ask him if the Thunder can survive this elimination game in Dallas among other questions.
1. Do you chalk up the game four meltdown to inexperience or were Dirk’s heroics too much to overcome?
I don’t think inexperience had as much to do with it as everyone wants to say. The team just quit playing smart basketball. You could be a team of five rookies and you’ve got to know that good shots and smart possessions win you games. They may have felt a little pressure, sure, but bad basketball is what lost them the game.
2. What is the tone among Thunder fans? Does the 3-1 lead, with game five at home seem too much to overcome or are they expecting the Thunder to win the last three?
Oh the series is over. But I do think the Thunder can win Game 5. This team has a lot of pride and really believes in its resiliency. And if they were to get it back to OKC I’m sure they wouldn’t want to go out with another sour note at home. But the Thunder have to win three straight against Dirk, which isn’t happening.
3. Have you been surprised at all at how much Russell Westbrook has been limited in this series?
That was Dallas’ plan all along. Westbrook is at his best when he can get to the rim. And with Tyson Chandler waiting, the Mavs have used him and a well placed zone to pack the paint and force him to shoot jumpers. I figured Westbrook would distribute a but better than he has, but the Mavs made him a focus early on.
4. What’s the best plan at defending Dirk in game five? Will Coach Brooks continue to give him different looks with several different defenders?
I don’t think there really is a new strategy for Dirk. If there was, Game 4 would’ve been a good time for it. I think Brooks and his staff have exhausted their options on Dirk. It basically comes down to how well Nick Collison can challenge him before he fouls out.
5. What do the Thunder have to do to extend the series and win in Dallas?
I think the biggest challenge is not stewing over Game 4. Because this Thunder team is good enough to beat the Mavs. They already did it in Game 2 and had them completely beat in Game 4. Really, the Thunder just need to do their thing but make sure they do it for a full 48 minutes. The pain of Game 4 might be too much to overcome though.
Thanks to Royce for taking some time to answer some questions for Crossover Chronicles, and be sure to visit Daily Thunder for more coverage on tonight’s game.
We’ll also be hearing from Rob Mahoney of the Two Man Game before tonight’s game.