Thunder and Mavericks Seek Star Power Surge Ahead of Second-Round Showdown

Thunder and Mavericks Seek Star Power Surge Ahead of Second-Round Showdown

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks moved on from the first round despite less-than-stellar performances from their star players. As they gear up for their Western Conference second-round clash starting Tuesday in Oklahoma City, both teams are counting on improved showings from their key players – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the Thunder and Luka Doncic for the Mavericks.

Thunder and Mavericks Seek Star Power Surge Ahead of Second-Round Showdown

In the Thunder’s series sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans, Gilgeous-Alexander posted averages of 27.3 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, shooting 47.6% from the field and 29.4% from beyond the arc, all slightly below his regular-season averages. Despite these numbers, Gilgeous-Alexander, who became a father during the first-round series, is eager for the challenge of the second round, a stage he has not previously experienced.

On the other side, Doncic averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 assists, and 8.8 rebounds in the Mavericks’ 4-2 series victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. However, he struggled with his shooting, hitting only 40.5% from the field and 23.9% from three-point range. Dealing with a lingering right knee sprain, Doncic acknowledges that rest is necessary but intends to push through the injury in the playoffs.

Facing Doncic will be a priority for the Thunder, with Gilgeous-Alexander recognizing the need for a team effort to contain the talented Maverick. He expressed confidence in Luguentz Dort, one of the NBA’s premier perimeter defenders, to play a crucial role in defending Doncic.

The Mavericks will welcome back Tim Hardaway Jr., who missed the last four games of the first-round series due to an ankle sprain. However, they will be without Maxi Kleber, who sustained a dislocated AC joint in his right shoulder, and Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who suffered an ankle injury in the first round.

The Thunder dominated the regular-season matchups against the Mavericks, winning three out of four games, including both games in Oklahoma City. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd praised Doncic and Hardaway Jr. for their readiness despite their recent injuries.

Adding to the Mavericks’ stability, Kidd signed a multi-year contract extension amid rumors linking him to the Lakers. This news comes as both teams prepare for what promises to be an intense second-round showdown.

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