Who would have thought it would have been this easy to sweep the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The Oklahoma City Thunder made it look easy on Saturday. One player, in particular, had a big hand in the Thunder’s victory.
Despite trailing by 13 points entering the 4th quarter, the Thunder made the plays necessary to come out with the victory. OKC relied heavily on shooting guard James Harden during the 4th quarter. Harden scored 15 points in the final quarter and finished with a playoff career-high 29 points on 11-16 shooting from the field, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Harden made play after play to help Oklahoma City climb back into the game. Oklahoma City outscored Dallas, 35-16 in the 4th, to win the game and series, 4-0. Mavericks’ star Dirk Nowitzki continued to struggle, going 10-25 from the field, finishing with 34 points thanks to 13-13 from the free-throw line.
With Russell Westbrook struggling (3-12 from the field) the Thunder looked to Harden to give a bigger spark than what he usually provides.
And Harden answered the bell.
He either scored or assisted on 24 of 35 points scored by the Thunder in the 4th. His ability to create for himself and others is something he has provided the Thunder with all season and in this close-out game. Harden is on his way to becoming a star. He is often over-looked because the Thunder has Westbrook and Kevin Durant, but Harden is their best play-maker.
With an early exit, the Mavs head into the offseason with a lot of questions. Jason Kidd and Jason Terry are going to be free agents and owner Mark Cuban is in the process of clearing the necessary cap space to sign Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, or both in the next two offseasons.Follow paulmbanks