Home » OKC face big Giddey call as fellow Aussie shines for Mavs; Cavs stun Celtics to level series: NBA Wrap

OKC face big Giddey call as fellow Aussie shines for Mavs; Cavs stun Celtics to level series: NBA Wrap

ESPN’s Zach Lowe said earlier in the week that this Western Conference semi-finals series against Dallas would either see Josh Giddey “sink or swim”.

“And the Thunder sink or swim with him,” Lowe added on his podcast.

Well, it seems like Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault was wise to that reality on Friday, playing Giddey a season-low 11 minutes as the Australian struggled in a 119-110 loss to the Mavericks.

Watch the best of the NBA Conference Semi Finals LIVE on ESPN, available via Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >

Giddey impressed in Oklahoma City’s sweep of New Orleans in the opening round of the playoffs, averaging 12.5 points and shooting 50 per cent from downtown.

But it has been a different story so far in the first two games of the series against Dallas, with the Mavericks hunting Giddey on defence with success early on Friday.

That, along with Giddey’s shortcomings as a shooter, made it tough for Daigneault to commit to too many minutes with the 20-year-old guard on the floor.

Now, with the series tied, the question for the Oklahoma City coach is how he divides up the usual minutes he would give the Australian, with the likes of Aaron Wiggins, Isaiah Joe and rookie Cason Wallace all candidates to see more playing time.

It was a different story for fellow Australian Josh Green, who went 3-for-5 from 3-point land on his way to 11 points in a handy showing off the bench for the Mavericks.

Josh Green had a great game. Sam Hodde/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Dante Exum, on the other hand, went scoreless in just six minutes of playing time.

Dallas’ win came despite a rough shooting night for Kyrie Irving, who went 2-for-8 from the field, with Luka Doncic (29 points) and P.J. Washington (29 points) carrying the load.

Tim Hardaway Jr. was also massive off the bench with 17 points while guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (33 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, one steal) led the way for OKC.

The Mavericks made a much better start to Friday’s game, getting clean looks and jumping out to a 7-0 lead as Giddey missed his first 3-point attempt of the night.

The Australian was creating some opportunities with his movement off the ball, scoring OKC’s first points of the game on a layup before later missing a mid-range floater.

However Giddey’s shortcomings on defence, and specifically in this Mavs match-up, saw him taken off the floor after just four minutes as Dallas had success targeting him early on Friday.

Josh Giddey only played 11 minutes. (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

At that stage of the game the Mavericks were already leading 16-7, with Doncic going 3-for-3 from the field on his way to seven quick points to go with an assist and rebound.

It prompted Thunder coach Mark Daigneault to go to a two-big line-up, inserting Jaylin Williams into the mix and he found immediate success as OKC went on a 7-0 run.

Not only did the addition of Williams help the Thunder on the defensive end but the former Arkansas forward made a 3-pointer within 30 seconds and added another a minute later.

The Mavericks responded with an 8-0 run of their own but then missed three consecutive 3-pointers as Oklahoma City chipped away at the deficit.

Doncic though put an exclamation mark on what was a dominant first quarter as he drained his fourth 3-pointer of the period, finishing with 16 points, 6 rebounds and three assists.

Co-star Irving missed his only field goal attempt of the quarter but trade deadline acquisition Washington had 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in the quarter.

A full-court pass and clutch shot from Chet Holmgren on the buzzer reduced the Mavs’ buffer to 36-32, which was slightly concerning given they had shot 61.5 per cent from deep in the quarter and yet only lead by four points.

Jokic named NBA MVP for 3rd in 4 seasons | 00:36

Giddey opened the second with a tough bucket as he re-entered the game while the Mavericks started the period without Doncic.

But Giddey’s struggles in defence continued and once again saw the Australian only given four minutes on the court before he was substituted off, with Gilgeous-Alexander brought in.

The Mavericks had opened up a 47-37 lead at that point in the second quarter and pushed it out to a 13-point advantage a few minutes later, prompting Daigneault to call a timeout.

Dallas was largely able to maintain its double-digit cushion until Gilgeous-Alexander made three quick field goals in the space of two minutes, then assisting on a Lu Dort 3-pointer that reduced the Mavs’ lead to 59-56.

A pair of 3-pointers from Josh Green pushed the visitors further ahead, with the Mavs taking a 68-62 halftime lead after the Australian hustled for an offensive rebound that led to his second bucket.

While obviously a small sample size, entering the second half of Game 2 the Thunder were -21 in Giddey’s 25 minutes throughout the series.

And although the Australian had some of his best games of the season in the first round against New Orleans, this series was quickly proving a bad match-up for the 20-year-old.

Daigneault made the decision to start Wiggins ahead of Giddey in the third quarter and it immediately paid off as the third-year guard made a 3-pointer on OKC’s first possession.

Aaron Wiggins had some nice moments. Joshua Gateley/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Wiggins then gave the Thunder the lead for the first time in the game before Dort drained one from deep to cap off a 13-4 run to begin the quarter and put OKC ahead 75-72, forcing Dallas into a timeout.

Daigneault later said in his post-game press conference that halftime substitutions are nothing new for the Thunder and that he didn’t view it as anything different to in-game substitutions.

Just as the Thunder looked to be getting into a rhythm, the Mavericks went on an 18-4 run to re-gain ascendancy, finding success with the Irving, Green, Hardaway Jr., Washington and Derek Lively Jr. line-up.

Green made his third 3-pointer of the game while Hardaway Jr. continued his productive night off the bench, adding 10 quick points to put Dallas in front 90-79 with four minutes left in the third.

Giddey’s tought night, meanwhile, continued as the Australian turned the ball over immediately when he was reintroduced to the game, leading to fastbreak points on the other end for Dallas.

What made the Mavericks’ run late in the third quarter all the more impressive was the fact it came with Doncic on the bench.

Thunder strike first in Mavs series | 01:09

Giddey, to his credit, grabbed two defensive rebounds and aggressively drove towards the rim to add a pair of points on both occasions before exiting with just over one minute still left in the quarter.

Giddey or no Giddey though, sloppy turnovers from Oklahoma City continued and given the way the Mavericks were shooting the Thunder were in no position to be giving up easy buckets.

Dallas took a 99-89 lead into the fourth but that quickly shrank as Wallace came up with two big plays, first burying a 3-pointer before expertly anticipating a Daniel Gafford pass to spark a Jalen Williams putback on the other end.

That, along with a Dort layup, started a 6-0 run to the quarter for the Thunder but as had been the case all game long, the Mavericks answered right back with two quick buckets of their own.

Dallas didn’t look back from that point, finishing 119-110 winners to level the series.


Donovan Mitchell led a comprehensive Cleveland team effort as the Cavaliers powered past the top-seeded Celtics 118-94 in Boston to level their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at one game apiece.

Mitchell scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half and received plenty of support from aggressive teammates as the Cavs bounced back from a game-one rout.

Evan Mobley, 22, got Cleveland going early, scoring 15 of his playoff career-high 21 points in the first half. Mobley added 10 rebounds and five assists and reserve guard Caris LeVert added 21 points off the bench for Cleveland, who had six players score in double figures.

‘F*** you’ – Knicks star trolls Reggie | 00:33

“I like the way that we were just attack-minded,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We didn’t settle for the first quick (shot) that we saw. We were attack-minded and understanding how they’re playing with their space.”

The Cavs fell behind in each of the first two quarters but finished both of them strong and had tied it up 54-54 at halftime.

Mitchell erupted for 16 points in the third quarter as the Cavaliers seized control, taking the first double-digit lead of the night for either team on Darius Garland’s three-pointer midway through the period that put Cleveland up 77-66.

Cleveland finished with 13 three-pointers while Boston made just eight on 35 attempts. The Celtics, who led the league with 64 regular-season wins, were 0-for-8 from three-point range in the third quarter.

The Cavs, up by 12 going into the fourth, pressed their advantage, as Mitchell drained three straight baskets that included a spinning drive for a hook shot that made it 99-83.

Celtics masterclass blow Cleveland away | 00:39

By the time Tatum was called for a flagrant foul — when his arm made contact with LaVert’s head on a play that pushed Cleveland’s lead to 24 points — fans were streaming out of T.D. Garden arena.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla pulled his starters, with Tatum finishing with 25 points and Jaylen Brown adding 19.

“Everybody did their job,” Mitchell said, heaping praise on Mobley, who started in place of injured center Jarrett Allen.

“To come out here on the road as a young player, that’s a big-time performance to set the tone for us.”

Now, Mitchell said, the Cavs need to keep the pressure on when the series shifts to Cleveland for game three on Sunday.

“At the end of the day, it’s one win,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to do it at the crib.”