Mavericks vs. Thunder: Will OKC Double Dirk?
On Tuesday we focused on how Dirk attacked the Thunder defense in the regular season and how OKC defended him. And a lot of the same things popped up in Game 1 that happened in the regular meetings between these teams, except Dirk was even more destructive on Tuesday than he was in the regular season.
In the two regular-season games in which Dirk faced OKC, he scorched them for a total 47 points on 13-of-21 shooting, including 19 trips to the FT line. In these two games, Dirk set up in the post quite a bit and was quite a handful for the Thunder.
One of the things we chastised Dirk for back in '07 was his reluctance to work out of the low blocks. He seemed much more content to work around the foul line area. Thought he hurt the Mavs in '07 vs. G-State because he didn't fight for position and failed to attack the bad interior defense of the Warriors.
But now, Dirk seems much more comfortable mixing in more low post-plays. He actually rarely set up at the high post in Game 1. In Game 1, counted 28 post-ups or isos on the sides. Also, Dirk had three isolation plays up high that all happened late in the game.
One of the tenets of post defense is to push your man off the block--make your man catch the ball further away. Most bigs want to make their post moves closer to rim.
But in Dirk's case, it doesn't matter if he has to start his post-ups 15 feet away from the rim. And in Game 1, most of Dirk's post-ups were of the extended variety. The lines kind of get blurred when determining if Dirk is posting or isoing. He's like Carmelo in that fashion.
On his post/iso plays, Dirk managed to generate 32 pts on 9-of-11 shooting & 2 TOs. He drew seven shooting fouls (12-for-12 FTs) and drew three non-shooting fouls. Dirk drew fouls at a high rate vs. OKC in the regular season as well.
Dirk did most of his damage on the right block. Carlisle really milked Dirk on the right side of the floor in the 2nd half--16 right block post-ups in 2nd half to only one left-side post-up.
In general, he likes to face-up on the right block. And he did work down there on Tuesday with a few face-up jumpers (mostly over Ibaka) in Game 1, including draining two clutch back-to-back face-up jumpers late in the game.
Also, Dirk pulled out his sweet patented one-dribble step-back over his right shoulder a few times to great effect--three makes (including a sick banker) & one drawn shooting foul. Dirk also hurt OKC putting the ball on the deck out of posts/isos (his spin moves were effective).
Serge Ibaka had the main assignment of checking Dirk. Things did not go so well for Serge. Dirk dropped 18 pts on Ibaka on 7-of-9 shooting. Dirk hurt Serge with face-up jumpers, turnarounds and baseline drives. Though give Serge some credit, he was in good position to contest a lot, it's just that Dirk made 'em anyways.
OKC tried to take some pressure off Ibaka in the 2nd half by checking Dirk with a combo of Collison, Durant, Sefolosha & Harden as well. None of them faired much better.
In the regular season, OKC rarely doubled Dirk on the block with an immediate, hard double. If the doubles came, they came after Dirk made a sharp move toward the basket.
In Game 1, Coach Brooks decided to keep with this strategy of rarely doubling Dirk early/hard. I noticed maybe two times where you could consider the help semi-urgent. The doubles came after Dirk put the ball on the deck. He was forced to kick out of doubles on posts/isos eight times. These kickouts led to four 3pt. makes and a total of 14 pts.
Some tweaks should be in order for the Thunder defense. Make the shooters prove they have their touch working before you let Dirk make a living at the FT line. Realize Peja and Terry are tough to leave, but shouldn't hesitate to test Marion, Stevenson, Barea and Kidd.
Definitely need to explore the option of sending immediate doubles on Dirk. Mix up your doubling pattern--keep him off balance like G-State did so well in '07. Send doubles on the baseline one time, the next time, let a guard dig down. Try fronting him sometimes.
Obviously, Dirk won't shoot 80% every night. But he will likely shoot around 50% every game in this series and draw fouls constantly if OKC tries to basically leave Ibaka alone on Dirk.