With a highly entertaining Western Conference Finals between Dallas and Oklahoma City now in full swing, we asked Clippers forward Ryan Gomes, a six-year vet who has matched up with both Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant, to break down the action for ESPNLA.com.
He looks at Thursday's win in Game 2 for Oklahoma City, and ahead towards Game 3. Here's an excerpt:
"...After Dirk Nowitzki's incredible Game 1, the Thunder did a nice job with their adjustments in Game 2, giving Dirk different looks compared to what they did in the other night. In Game 1 he was fouled a lot, but on the shots where he wasn’t, Dirk had his areas down. He was catching, jabbing, and shooting over guys. He was comfortable. In Game 2, the Thunder ran a few double teams at him, and made him get rid of the ball. Dirk finished with five assists, but in the third quarter the Thunder were forcing turnovers because he and his teammates couldn’t time when that double team was coming.
Oklahoma City did a nice job putting it in Dirk’s mind that help could be coming at any point, and from different places. As a player, that makes you just a little less sure in your moves. Then as they built the lead, they didn’t really want or need to double any more. The Thunder could play Dirk as straight and solid as possible, keeping other defenders on their shooters, knowing if he scored the Mavs still needed two or three more possessions in order to tie.
Dirk still had a great game, with 29 points on only 17 shots from the floor, but over the course of the night Oklahoma City did a nice job changing his rhythm.
Offensively, I thought Oklahoma City did a good job against Dallas' zone, putting Durant on the wing, but moving him around to the middle of the free throw line area. The Thunder tried to get him isolated right there against the guards at the top, so he could take those little mid-range shots or draw attention and kick to the opposite side of the floor. One time, he shot a pull up and missed it, but the Thunder earned the offensive rebound, and were able to capitalize with a nice lefty putback from Nick Collison. That’s the thing about a zone- if you don’t get that first defensive rebound, the opportunities for the offense to go in there and find holes are big.
That’s what they’ll need to keep doing in Game 3. Keep finding ways to get Durant to the middle, and have him make plays.
But even though Dirk and Durant were both good, the big key Thursday was with the other guys on the court..."
For the rest of Gomes' breakdown, including some great stuff on James Harden and the fourth quarter benching of Russell Westbrook, click here.