Thunder: 3 studs, 2 duds from crushing Game 6 loss to Mavericks

May 18, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) dribbles
May 18, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) dribbles / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Though the 2023-24 campaign was truly a magical one, the OKC Thunder should look back on Saturday night's Game 6 loss once feelings aren't as fresh and see the areas in which they can improve upon moving forward.

The Thunder squandered a 17-point lead and faltered in their elimination matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, which seemed to be a key example of inexperience and a lack of composure down the stretch for the second-youngest team in the NBA. 

It was a tale of two halves for the Thunder.

The Western Conference top seeds only allowed 48 points to the Mavericks in the first half before giving up 69 in the second half to lose control in the crucial moments. 

The Mavericks’ shotmaking proved too much for OKC to handle during the final two periods as the defense let its foot off the gas. 

Losing the series revealed so much about this team. For head coach Mark Daigneault, this will be a learning experience. The youthful coach bet on Dallas’ perceived non-shooters PJ Washington, Derrick Jones Jr., and Tim Hardaway Jr. to miss their shots. Unfortunately for him, he never wound up profiting from such a game plan.

Basketball is full of tradeoffs, so one can never cover everything, but consistently giving those guys an airspace to shoot built them up as a threat. Washington made big shots from the corner, Jones hit one big one in Game 6, and Hardaway punished the Thunder with bail-out makes. 

The series showed the team’s poise. Young and mostly first-timers in a playoff setting, the Thunder stayed true to their system and fortified an ethos founded on unrelenting spirit. 

With all this in mind, here are the duds and studs from the Thunder’s final game of the season.