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Thunder Keys to A Game Six Victory Over the Mavericks

May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) dunks over Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) during the first half during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After losing on Wednesday night, the number one seeded Oklahoma City Thunder now have their backs against the wall in their second-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. OKC has to find a way to get a win in game six tonight and extend this series against a Mavericks squad who have found an effective way to take advantage of their weaknesses on both sides of the ball. The young Thunder now have to conquer a road elimination game against a Mavericks squad that is finding their rhythm at the right time.

Thunder Keys to A Game Six Victory Over the Mavericks

Chet Holmgren Has to Be Dominant

The Thunder’s two wins this series happened because of Chet Holmgren dominating both sides of the ball. In the last two games, OKC have relied on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander too much. Holmgren is the second-best player the Thunder have, and he has to get going. The Thunder need to get him involved early and often in tonight’s contest. An aggressive Holmgren is an important thing for the Thunder and a terrible thing for the Mavericks.

Holmgren needs to stop settling for perimeter shots and attack the basket. Playing that way gets his defenders in foul trouble and tests Dallas’ depth at the center position. The Mavericks really do not have anyone on their roster who can keep up with him in this series. When he does not settle and plays aggressively, Holmgren creates high-percentage shooting opportunities for his teammates. In game five, the Thunder did not cash in on them. That has to change in tonight’s contest, or they will be going home.

Continue to Limit Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving

The Thunder have been able to limit the effectiveness of Dallas’ explosive backcourt of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving throughout this series. Both Doncic and Irving have had their moments in this series. However, they have been combining for about 40-plus points of Dallas’ final point total instead of being the majority of the offensive attack. That is because of the Thunder’s length at the wing position. They keep throwing a lot of bodies at Doncic and Irving, which makes them work throughout the contest and forces someone else to beat them.

Keeping Irving and Doncic in check has to continue in tonight’s contest if the Thunder want to avoid elimination. Additionally, they have to make one of their role players beat them tonight. Role players typically play better at home, and OKC has to force Dallas to take well contested shots and not wide-open ones. Also, they cannot afford to give them easy opportunities to put points on the board. If they can implement these things into their game six gameplan tonight. OKC should have a great chance to steal another game in Dallas.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Must Play Like a Top Two MVP Candidate

With his team facing elimination tonight, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has to be the best player on the court. Throughout this season and this series, he has played like he is one of the top-five players in the NBA. SGA has dominated the Mavericks defensive scheme in this series. They have no one available on their roster who can stay in front of him. Additionally, he has kept his team afloat while his teammates have struggled in the last two games. He has to continue to be aggressive and create high-percentage opportunities for his teammates.

Elimination games make or break the careers of superstars, and Gilgeous-Alexander has to be dominant tonight. He has to attack the basket and not play timidly against a Mavericks squad that is looking to take them out. If SGA can continue to make baskets and create high-percentage opportunities for his teammates. OKC will win tonight and force a game seven on Monday.


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