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May 10, 2024 3:45 pm

Thunder ‘curious but confident’ heading into Game 3 in Dallas

Mark Daigneault

Oklahoma City Thunder coach Mark Daigneault didn’t figure his team would run through the NBA playoffs without facing adversity.

But now that it’s arrived, Daigneault is looking forward to seeing how the Thunder respond.

He’ll get the chance Saturday afternoon when Oklahoma City takes on the host Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

“Curious but confident,” Daigneault said of how his team would react in the wake of Thursday’s 119-110 loss that tied the series 1-1. “I’m not sitting here wondering. This is a team that’s made a habit of getting back up. We keep a pretty steady temperament through the ups and downs of the season, and this is just part of the deal.

“This is the playoffs. Playing against really good teams. These are deep waters. You’re gonna throw some punches, you’re gonna take some punches, and now we’ve gotta eat one, get back to zero … and be a better team in Game 3.”

Mavericks star Luka Doncic doesn’t expect things to get any easier as the series moves to Dallas.

“They have great players,” Doncic said of the Thunder. “They have great chemistry, great team. And it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a fight till the end. So, just much respect to Oklahoma (City).”

The Mavericks became the first team to score more than 95 points against the Thunder in this postseason, with Doncic and P.J. Washington combining for 58 points Thursday.

Doncic returned to form with five 3-pointers and dominant stretches early and late, Washington scored a career-playoff-high 29 points, and Kyrie Irving had 11 assists to boost the Mavericks, who finished with 30 assists on 42 conversions from the field.

“With everyone getting involved, it’s not my time to press,” Irving said after scoring nine points in Game 2. “It’s my time to do other things in order to make us successful. It’s just part of being a champion. It’s continuing to push forward no matter what shots you’re getting.”

Doncic went 5 of 8 from beyond the arc Thursday after going just 5 of 35 from there over the Mavericks’ previous four playoff games.

“Obviously he’s a really talented player,” Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “He had a big night. … He’s seen every coverage, every defense. It’s just about making him work, and hopefully that wears on him.”

While Josh Giddey was a big piece of the last three games of Oklahoma City’s first-round series sweep of New Orleans, he has struggled against the Mavericks.

Giddey averaged 16 points per game and shot 56.3 percent from beyond the arc in those three games against the Pelicans, but in the first two games of the series against Dallas, he has just 10 total points and has missed all four of his 3-point tries.

He played less than 11 minutes in Game 2 on Thursday.

During the regular season, the Thunder and Mavericks split their two games in Dallas.

–Field Level Media

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