The Dallas Mavericks have been dethroned. Eliminated. They’re finished. Whatever term you wish to use to describe it—and sorry, Mavs fans, there’s no euphemism great enough to lessen the blow—the Mavs’ 2012 season is over.
Yes, the defending champs didn’t do much defending in the 2012 NBA playoffs, getting swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in four straight games. However, with the exception of Game 3, the Mavs hung tough with the Thunder, losing by less than six points in the other three. But they failed to show the same dominance that made them champions in 2011, ultimately resulting in a 103-97 loss Saturday night in Dallas that led to their demise.
The man of the evening was Thunder guard James Harden, who scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, including seven in a row and nine in the Thunder’s 12-0 run after they trailed by 13 points with 9:44 left.
Yes, sorry again, Mavs fans, you did have a chance to win this one.
Too bad Tyson Chandler is busy winning Defensive Player of Year awards for the Knicks.
He could have been helpful, because as Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle pointed out after the game, the team had no answer for Harden.
“He beat us in individual drives, beat us in pick and rolls. He got up a head of steam and was great,” Carlisle said of Harden. “We tried everything, five or six different coverages going. We needed to be better but it was more about how good he was.”
Kevin Durant also chipped in with 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, but the story of the series was really how different this season’s Mavs team was compared to last season. The aforementioned Chandler left a big hole on defense, J.J. Barea wasn’t there to provide a spark off the bench and Nowitzki, despite his 34 points in Game 4, just was never the same guy who was named finals MVP last season.
So now the question remains, with Oklahoma City knocking off the defending champs, are they now officially the team to beat?