NBA Playoffs 2012: Have the Oklahoma City Thunder played Dirk Nowitzki dirty?

Dirk Nowitzki was clearly very frustrated in Game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night.

Dirk received an incidental elbow from Serge Ibaka after making a jump shot and then gave Ibaka a bump running back down the court. A few plays later, Dirk was shoved around some by Kendrick Perkins underneath the rim and then lost his cool throwing an elbow at Perkins after the play.

The Thunder have gotten under Dirk’s skin and they got the Mavericks and head coach Rick Carlisle complaining about the officiating.

But have the Thunder been too physical with Dirk? Have they been dirty?

Absolutely not.

Carlisle doesn’t seem to think so but I see nothing wrong with how Oklahoma City has played Dirk. You have to get physical with him and it’s not like they’re getting away with much. Dirk has gone 20-for-21 from the free throw line in two games so far against the Thunder. The officials really tightened things up last night especially in the second half as the teams combined for 71 free throw attempts in Game 2.

“That was a physical, intense, hard-fought playoff basketball game,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said after the game. “I’m proud of our guys the way they battled at first there at the start and we finished up playing tough, hard, defensive-minded basketball.”

If you’re Dirk, the defending champion and Finals MVP, you can’t expect to not be played so physically. That’s how he’s been defended his whole career and that’s how people have had success defending him.

It’s not like Kendrick Perkins is a rookie or something either. He’s been around and people know what he does. He uses his elbows a little more than most, sets moving screens and gives you that extra nudge when it’s not entirely necessary. It doesn’t feel good but it’s not dirty. It’s just how he earns a paycheck and it is also extremely important for this Thunder team.

The series is going to go back to Dallas now and expect Dirk to get a few more calls than he did in Games 1 and 2. That will be a tough thing for Oklahoma City to overcome for sure. Remember last year in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Dirk went 24-for-24 from the free throw line.

Things will change some when the series shifts to Dallas, hopefully it’s not too drastic though.

Topics: Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, First Round, Kendrick Perkins, NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Rick Carlisle, Scott Brooks, Serge Ibaka

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