Dirk Nowitski scorched the Oklahoma City Thunder for 48 points in game one of the Western Conference Finals, and it was one of the best playoff performances I’ve seen in my 23 years of watching basketball I can recollect. Regardless of who had the assignment, he flat out made their night hell trying to check him. He posted up the smaller defenders and faced up the guys his size and shot the ball over them, while also putting the ball on the floor getting guys in foul trouble. Stopping this man is easier said then done, and I know Thunder Head Coach Scotty Brooks has watched tape and made some defensive adjustments for game two tonight. Here are some things I would try against Dirk If I were the coach.
1. Front the post: OKC didn’t front Nowitski one time in the post the other night. He was able to make clean catches and establish position in his favorite spots on the court. Fronting Dirk will make it harder for his teammates to get him ball and might limit his touches.
2.Send the double team: If he gets on a roll early in the game, the Thunder has to force the ball out of his hands. It’s a gamble due to the fact that Dallas has Dirk surrounded by knockdown shooters at all times, but the Thunder will have to make crisper defensive rotations and contest at the three point line.
3.Attack Nowitski while he’s on defense and make him work: Whoever Dirk’s assignment is on defense needs to make it their business to attack him. Whether it’s Durant taking him to the hole or Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison posting him up, they have to make him play defense and try to get him in foul trouble. We all now he’s not a great defensive player.
While it’s highly unlikely Nowitski has a game resembling the legendary performance in game one, he needs to be contained if OKC plans on winning tonight and staying out of a 2-0 hole. Tonight Dallas is a 5 1/2 point favorite, and it’s a clear Mavericks line. I like Dallas to cover the line tonight and take a 2-0 lead in the series.