4 Struggling Mavericks who must step up to take down the Thunder
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4 Struggling Mavericks who must step up to take down the Thunder

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Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals after losing disappointingly on Monday night.

Dallas had every opportunity to take down the Thunder in Game 4, but missed free throws and the struggles of some of their key players plagued them in this loss.

This game could define the series depending on who wins Game 5, and it seems like the momentum shifted in favor of the Thunder.

It won’t be simple, but the Mavs still have a strong chance to defeat the Thunder. Dallas needs to play better from a number of Mavericks players if they are to win this series, and if they win Game 5, they may have the series in the bag.

Everyone knows that the winner of Game 5 in a tied 2-2 series typically wins, and Dallas will have their work cut out for them playing in Oklahoma City.

Here are four Dallas Mavericks players who must play better for them to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in this series.

4. Josh Green

Josh Green, a guard for the Dallas Mavericks, hasn’t had much of an opportunity since Games 1 and 2, but his contagious enthusiasm and ability to make shots could be the difference-maker in this series.

Green played a total of 40 minutes in both Game 1 and Game 2, scoring 11 points in each contest. He was playing with all of his heart on both ends, making timely shots, and flying around the court. Though Green’s production has decreased over the past two games, everyone still understands that he will always provide energy and shooting.

Green has scored a total of six points on 2–7 shooting in Games 3 and 34. Despite making a three-pointer in each of these games, Green’s ineffectiveness has been evident.

His minutes have gone way down in these two games as he only played just over 28 minutes combined in these two games, but he has to be a little better. Minutes are extremely tight in the playoffs, and Green has to make a bit of a bigger impact in his minutes.

The Mavs will need Green to make his open looks, and Game 5 could be telling for what his role looks like for the rest of the series.

3. Kyrie Irving

In Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving had just nine points while shooting 4-11 from the field and 1-2 from the free-throw line. Irving did dish out nine assists in this game, but nine points from one of your superstars in a playoff game is unacceptable.

The Mavs are in win-or-go-home territory right now, and the Mavs couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch of Game 4. Irving is typically someone who the Mavs rely heavily upon in the clutch, but just like his teammates, he couldn’t get anything going.

Irving’s nine-point game in Game 4 was his second nine-point game of this series, and the Mavs must demand more from him. Tim Hardaway Sr., the father of Tim Hardaway Jr., said that he thinks that Irving is deferring to Luka Doncic too much, and although Irving is getting double-teamed consistently, he must put an emphasis on getting involved early.

Irving is someone who usually feels the game out for the first quarter or two before putting the pedal to the metal and taking over the game, but he has to be aggressive from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Irving is one of the greatest and most skilled guards to play the game, and he has to leave his mark on this series. All-time greats don’t disappear when their team needs them most, and Game 5 will be telling of how he responds to this moment of adversity.

2. Dante Exum

The story of the entire playoffs for the Dallas Mavericks has been the disappointing play of Dante Exum, but Game 4 was a huge step in the right direction. Exum finished with five points in his five minutes of action while shooting 2-4 from the field and 1-1 from downtown.

Exum had shown no confidence throughout the entire playoffs and his shooting has been horrendous but his performance in Game 4 was promising.

For the entire 2024 NBA Playoffs, Exum is averaging 1.9 points per game while shooting 24.1 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from downtown. This was a huge shock considering how good he was during the regular season, and he has been the weak link of the Mavericks rotation.

When handling the ball, Exum has not been showing much assertiveness at all, and all of his strengths from the regular season, including his shooting, have crumbled. Exum has still brought good defense, but the Mavs need more out of him in his limited minutes.

Exum’s minutes will only increase if he can continuously duplicate his effect from Game 4. After that heartbreaking Game 4 defeat, the Mavs could need some kind of spark, and Exum might be the unsung hero for the remainder of the series.

For him, making clutch plays, guarding the ball, and making open shots will be crucial.

1. Luka Doncic

One of the craziest parts of the 2024 NBA Playoffs has been the struggles of Luka Doncic, and this has unarguably been the worst playoffs of his career. Doncic is averaging 26.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 26 percent from downtown.

Even though Doncic’s ailments are obviously affecting his play, he still needs to improve significantly. Lu Dort has been protecting Doncic since the beginning of the series, as stated by Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault, and thus far, Dort has done a respectable job of it.

Dort’s greatest contribution to the series has been frustrating Doncic, despite the fact that Doncic has defeated him on numerous occasions. He has been denying him any space, and Doncic seemed to be more concerned with drawing fouls than with really playing his position.

Despite his injuries, Doncic needs to improve because this is not the same player that the public saw throughout the regular season. The result of this series may depend on Doncic because he isn’t making as many of his usual basket-guard shots.

Even though he has put up a few strong performances, Dallas has yet to witness a genuine classic Luka performance, which would almost certainly result in a Mavs victory.

The Mavs need Doncic to pick it up big in Game 5, and even he would be the first to admit that he isn’t playing at his usual level.
Keep checking back for the most recent information on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

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