3 keys to Thunder winning Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two
Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

After a comfortable opening victory, the OKC Thunder lost Game 2 by nine points. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stole the show with 33 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks while boasting an efficient 61 percent true shooting percentage.

Unfortunately, he did not receive much help in this contest. Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren both struggled with their shots, while the team's defense appeared to be out of sync. 

It was Oklahoma City's first loss since April 5th, and the Thunder now hit the road for Game 3 in Dallas. How can they rebound and snatch back home-court advantage? 

3) Rotation changes

With Josh Giddey on the court, Dallas has outscored the Thunder by an incredible 45 points per 100 possessions.

They are brutally exploiting his defense, and Giddey’s shot has come back down to earth. The former lottery pick cannot create advantages off the bounce at the moment, which is torpedoing the offense. To make matters worse, his struggles are only making him more hesitant and tight on shot attempts, thus worsening his play even further.

It’s a cycle that’s extremely difficult to escape. 

Meanwhile, the Thunder have outscored the Mavericks by 20 points per 100 possessions with Aaron Wiggins on the court. His superb efficiency and defensive versatility deem him an ideal piece against Dallas. If OKC is going to win this series, then Mark Daigneault must make the difficult decision to bench Giddey. 

2) Defend the corners 

Apart from the obvious rotation tweak, the Thunder need to do a better job of defending the arc. In Game 2, Dallas racked up a whopping 19 corner attempts and 23 wide-open three-point attempts. PJ Washington took OKC to the woodshed and dropped 29 points on 7-of-11 shooting from deep. 

The Thunder can survive individual scoring outbursts from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, but they cannot allow the role players to explode via wide open looks. OKC’s defense must stay more attached to shooters and allow the stars to constantly take contested or semi-contested shots without overhelping. 

1) Chet Holmgren's offense

Chet is creating decent looks for himself at a high rate, and Dallas’ bigs are struggling with his range. If Holmgren is knocking down shots, then it completely unlocks the offense, especially in the half-court.

His outside shot disrupts Dallas’ plan of packing the paint, and production as a roller deters the opposing big from stepping up in the pick-and-roll. A monster Holmgren outing would give the Thunder an excellent chance of taking game three.