Thunder vs. Mavericks score: OKC remains unbeaten in 2024 playoffs as Luka Doncic struggles in Game 1

The Oklahoma City Thunder are still unbeaten in the 2024 NBA playoffs. After sweeping the Pelicans in the first round, the Thunder beat the Dallas Mavericks, 117-95, on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their second-round series. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a game-high 29 points and Chet Holmgren added 19 points and three blocks as OKC improved to 5-0 this postseason. The Thunder led by nine points at halftime and then pulled away late in the third quarter after the Mavericks made a run to make it a one-point game. 

Mavs star Luka Doncic had a game to forget. Doncic looked slowed by a lingering knee issue, scoring just 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting. He made just one of his eight 3-point attempts, and it was the first time Doncic scored less than 20 points in his last 25 playoff games.

OKC twists the defensive screws

Luka Doncic, who appeared to aggravate the same knee he tweaked in the Clippers series, looked extremely limited in terms of his ability to drive forcefully and create the kinds of consistent floor-shaping advantages we're used to him creating, but a lot of the credit for that goes to OKC's defense. 

Lu Dort had the assignment when matchups allowed, and let me tell you, being in the Dorture Chamber is hellish enough without a bum knee. But the way OKC twists the screws on a player like Doncic is by having multiple players who apply that kind of pressure. 

Jalen Williams. Cason Wallace. Even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Everybody is going to see time on Doncic because the Mavericks matchup hunt and the Thunder switch pretty much everything, so you can't look down the lineup and pinpoint any particular one-on-one matchup. 

Everywhere Doncic turned, someone from OKC was there to physically cramp his space. Every time he did get a step, someone was there to close off his lane. This went for Kyrie Irving, too. Irving wound up with 20 points after a little third-quarter heater, but he was pretty much quiet all night. With an elite shot blocker in Chet Holmgren behind all this all this perimeter pressure, there aren't many cracks for Dallas to exploit. 

That said, it goes without saying that Doncic and Irving are capable of dismantling any defense. They'll need to if the Mavericks are going to put up a fight in this series, because OKC is deeper and a better defensive team. 

Luka's 3-point struggles continue

Doncic finished at 23% from 3-point range in Dallas' first-round win over the Clippers, and that number went down again with a 1-for-8 showing in Game 1 on Tuesday. Doncic has now missed 30 of his last 35 3-point attempts. 

Doncic made over 38% of his 3s this season on high volume (over 10 per game), and this 5-for-35 skid he's on right now traces back to Game 4 of the Clippers series, when he aggravated his sprained right knee. It's fair to deduce that he's having trouble creating some lower-half lift, and his shots have looked a little flatter than usual. 

Will the shooting get better? That might depend on whether the knee gets better, and that point, it doesn't sound all that encouraging if you're a Mavs fan. 

Thunder balance

SGA led the way with 29 points. He had to pound his way to the free-throw line before he settled into a rhythm, but once he did, he was hitting his patented step-back jumpers from 3 and in the midrange like clockwork. A couple 3s in the fourth went a long way toward putting this one out of reach. 

But it wasn't just SGA. Jalen Williams, who was probably OKC's best player in the first-round sweep over New Orleans, busted out with a 10 straight points in the fourth on a pair of 3s, a slick scoop layup and an awesome baseline dunk in traffic. Chet Holmgren hit a pair of 3s and finished with 19. Aaron Wiggins was superb with 16 points and four 3s off the bench. Lu Dort, Cason Wallace and Isaiah Joe each hit a pair of 3s. Jaylin Williams went for nine points and eight boards. 

Dallas got some nice contributions from Daniel Gafford (16 points, 11 boards, five blocks) and Josh Green off the bench, but those have to be ancillary contributions rather than the guys actually keeping the Mavs afloat as Doncic and Irving are held in check. 

OKC's balance was perfect. The best players at the top (68 points for SGA, J-Dub and Chet), and the role players making their open 3s as the Thunder outscore the Mavs by a collective 15 from beyond the arc. 

Dallas can't figure out Game 1s

This is the fifth playoff series the Mavericks have played under Jason Kidd. They have lost all five Game 1s, and have trailed by at least 20 point in four of those five losses. 

The good news is the Mavericks have been able to rally to win three of their four series under Kidd entering this one, losing only to the Warriors in the 2022 conference finals. 

But this looks like a long road to victory against OKC with a hobbled Doncic. Game 2 feels almost like a must win. Teams that go down 0-2 in a seven-game series go on to lose over 90% of the time.

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FINAL SCORE: OKC 117, Dallas 95

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 29 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds
  • Chet Holmgren: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals
  • Jalen Williams: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Luka Doncic: 19 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds (1 of 8 from 3)
  • Kyrie Irving: 20 points (3 of 4 from 3)
  • Daniel Gafford: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks
May 8, 2024, 4:06 AM
May. 08, 2024, 12:06 am EDT
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Mavs waving the white flag

OKC has busted loose on a barrage of 3-pointers and a Jalen Williams takeover to build a 22-point lead in the fourth, and Jason Kidd has pulled the plug on his starters. This one's in the bag. 

May 8, 2024, 3:53 AM
May. 07, 2024, 11:53 pm EDT
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Jalen Williams joins the party

Williams had been relatively quiet until he scored 10 straight points on two 3s, a slick wrong-footed scoop lay-in high off the glass, and a big-boy baseline dunk in traffic. Williams is up to 18 points for the game and OKC has pushed the lead back to 17. 

May 8, 2024, 3:46 AM
May. 07, 2024, 11:46 pm EDT
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Kyrie hits massive 3 to end 3rd

Dallas was in the danger zone down 15. It's still in trouble, but Irving sticking a 3 at the buzzer to send the Mavericks into the fourth trailing by 10 is a thread of life. I suspect Luka and Irving are a go for the full 4th unless OKC puts it out of reach. 

May 8, 2024, 3:34 AM
May. 07, 2024, 11:34 pm EDT
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OKC has broken it open

OKC has turned a one-point game into a 15-point lead as we near the end of the third quarter. SGA is taking over, OKC is drilling 3s, and Dallas just cannot break loose of this OKC defense. 

May 8, 2024, 3:31 AM
May. 07, 2024, 11:31 pm EDT
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OKC punches right back

After Dallas goes on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to one, OKC comes right back with a 14-4 run of its own capped by a SGA pull-up 3 that leads to a Dallas timeout. Danger zone for the Mavs. 

May 8, 2024, 3:22 AM
May. 07, 2024, 11:22 pm EDT
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Dallas on a run

Huge 9-0 run for Dallas, which is getting stops, which leads to transition, which is extra important right now to get consistent quality looks with the way OKC is turning the defensive screws on a hobbled Luka Doncic (appears to have aggravated same knee he injured vs. Clippers). One point game with a little over seven minutes to play in the third. 

May 8, 2024, 3:15 AM
May. 07, 2024, 11:15 pm EDT
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Halftime score: Thunder 62, Mavericks 53

OKC's defense has really started to squeeze Dallas. Luka Doncic was in rhythm early but is just 4 of 12 and 1 or 5 from 3 at the half. Kyrie Irving has almost as many turnovers as points (6 to 4). 

Meanwhile, OKC is getting in transition and attacking the right matchups. Doncic is getting blown by on a regular basis. Daniel Gafford has tried to leean up what he can around the rim, but OKC, despite not shooting a great percentage, is winning all the angles and has thus gotten itself to the free-throw line 22 times already. 


  • SGA: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Luka: 12 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
May 8, 2024, 2:51 AM
May. 07, 2024, 10:51 pm EDT
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SGA starting to cook

SGA is up to 16 first-half points. Getting himself to the free-throw line, and now as the Mavericks scramble to stay in front, the step-back jumper falls. 

May 8, 2024, 2:36 AM
May. 07, 2024, 10:36 pm EDT
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Both teams are getting good shots against good defense both ways. Pretty high level overall even though there has been some sloppiness here and there on both sides. 

May 8, 2024, 2:31 AM
May. 07, 2024, 10:31 pm EDT
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1Q SCORE: Mavericks 23, Thunder 23

Kyrie Irving has started off shaky with four first-quarter turnovers. Luka Doncic is being attacked defensively and he is not keeping guys in front. That's the bad news for Dallas. The good news is Luka is in rhythm as a shooter and a passer, spraying the ball all over in the early going. Both teams are playing pretty solid defense to start. 

  • Luka Doncic: 8 points 3 assists (3 of 7 shooting)
  • Josh Green: 6 points (2 for 2 on 3s)
  • SGA: 8 points, 2 assists (3 of 5 shooting)
  • Chet Holmgren: 5 points, 1 block, 1 steal (2 of 4 shooting)
May 8, 2024, 2:08 AM
May. 07, 2024, 10:08 pm EDT
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Lot of talk about who's going to guard who in this series. For what it's worth:

Lu Dort on Luka Donic
Jalen Williams on Kyrie Irving
Derrick Jones Jr. on SGA

But ... there is a lot of switching on both sides and both team will look, and have looked, to attack cross-matches in transition. Those were the preferred defensive matchups for each side, but every player on the court is going to see defensive time on every other player in this game and throughout this series. 

May 8, 2024, 1:59 AM
May. 07, 2024, 9:59 pm EDT
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Get your popcorn ready 🍿

Two high-scoring stars will tangle Tuesday night when Luka Doncic and the Mavericks visit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder. OKC won three of the four meetings between the teams this season, including both matchups in Oklahoma City. Is Dallas overdue?

May 8, 2024, 1:15 AM
May. 07, 2024, 9:15 pm EDT