The Thunder Picked Up A Game 1 Win Over The Mavs Behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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The Oklahoma City Thunder put on a show in their first Western Conference Semifinal game since 2016. Playing in front of a delirious hometown crowd against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City used Game 1 of their series to make a statement that they’re as serious of a championship contender as anyone in the league. Thanks to a big night by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and an impressive, team-wide performance on the defensive end of the floor, the Thunder went up in the series, 1-0, after a 117-95 win.

The two teams spent much of the first quarter feeling one another out. Neither side was able to open up a lead of more than three points, and things were all tied up at 23 following the opening 12 minutes. Each team’s biggest star — Luka Doncic for the Mavs and Gilgeous-Alexander for the Thunder — had eight points to lead the way.

Gilgeous-Alexander went on to take over the next two quarters. Oklahoma City took a 62-53 lead into the locker room at halftime and held onto a 89-79 lead after three because their MVP finalist at guard rose to the occasion in a big way. The savvy, efficient game of Gilgeous-Alexander was a problem that the Mavericks struggled to solve, regardless of who they threw at him.

Still, Dallas gave themselves a chance entering the fourth, as they never quite let things get out of hand — they managed to get the Thunder lead down to one at one point. Whether it was a big shot by Kyrie Irving, a thunderous dunk by Derrick Jones, Jr., or something else, the team did everything it could to keep Oklahoma City within shouting distance, even as Doncic struggled from the field thanks in part to his time spent in the Dorture Chamber.

As has been the case for much of the season, the Thunder showed off impressive maturity in the fourth quarter considering how young their team is. Any time the Mavericks — namely Irving — tried to build up the tiniest bit of momentum, Oklahoma City was immediately able to figure out an answer to put out any fires before they could pop up.

And then, the Thunder were able to really put their foot on the gas. Thanks to a 15-2 run, the team was able to open up a 22-point lead that sent the home crowd into a frenzy — and after a timeout, Mavs coach Jason Kidd threw up the white flag, as he emptied his bench with 5:12 remaining in the game.

Gilgeous-Alexander was the star on the evening, as he went for 29 points with nine rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, and a steal in 37 minutes of work. Chet Holmgren was sensational with 19 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, and two steals, while Jalen Williams scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. For the Mavs, Irving had 20 points and Doncic had 19, but basically everything went wrong for them on the offensive end of the floor. The team shot 39.3 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three, and turned the ball over 15 times, nine of which came from their two stars.

Game 2 between the Mavs and the Thunder will take place on Thursday night, and is scheduled to tip off at 9:30 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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