Kyrie Irving’s Major Mistake is Costing the Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks star has been struggling against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four
Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

On Monday evening, the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled off a ferocious comeback victory against the Mavs after being down by twelve going into halftime.

Once the second half began, the Thunder took complete control of the game, outscoring Dallas 57 to 42 through the second half while putting up a commanding 35-point fourth quarter to secure a victory and tie the series up at two games a piece before heading back to Oklahoma for a crucial game 5 Wednesday evening. 

While the Thunder were able to come together and have a dominating second half on the offensive end, the Mavericks offense, on the other hand, was sluggish and lackluster throughout the entire second half. The Mavericks struggled immensely after halftime to generate an offensive game, as they could only score a very underwhelming 15 points throughout the third quarter.

The most significant factor for the Mavs offense going cold in the second half was that their two superstars seemed to vanish from the scene, becoming a recurring problem for Kyrie in the series.

Kyrie has been an anchor of the Mavericks offense this season as he averaged 25.6 points per game, along with 5.7 assists. He also was an essential factor in the Mavericks' success over the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, as he averaged 26.5 points a game, and a lot of the offense seemed to be generated through him.

Kyrie's value on offense throughout the Clippers series can be proven by the fact that he maintained the highest plus-minus ratio throughout the series, playing in three games where he was over plus 15.

However, since the Mavs have started their series with the Thunder, Kyrie seems to be a shell of the player he was against the Clippers. So far through the series, Kyrie is averaging 15 points per game, and there's only been one game this series where he has been over plus ten in the plus-minus category.

The biggest source of disappointment in Kyrie's game, however, is that it appears he has become a much more passive player than we have seen this season.

While it is crucial to get your teammates involved in the game to create an efficient offense, Irving seems to be deferring to his teammates much more frequently than he has in the past. Proof of Kyrie's passive style of play is that in the first four games of the Clippers series, Kyrie averaged 19.5 field goal attempts per game, while in this current series, Kyrie is only averaging 12.5 field goal attempts throughout the first four games of the series. His three-point attempts are also way down throughout this series, as he is currently only averaging three attempts per game, even though he averaged seven attempts per game throughout the regular season.

Although Irving is not the aggressive scorer we have grown accustomed to, it may be due to factors he cannot control in some ways. The Thunder defense has done an impeccable job at causing Kyrie's role in the Mavericks offense to diminish. The Thunder have been double-teaming Kyrie during most of his time on the court, and rarely, when he is not double-teamed, the Thunder have created a zone defense that limits Kyrie from driving the paint as much as he would like, forcing him to become a much more passive player then the Mavericks need.

The Thunder's aggressive defense is also causing Kyrie to turn the ball over much more frequently than usual, as he is currently averaging nearly four turnovers a game this series, even though he only averaged a remarkably low 1.8 turnovers a game throughout the season. 

Thankfully for the Mavericks, PJ Washington has stepped up big throughout the series, while the Thunder have been able to detain Kyrie for the most part. PJ is averaging 21.7 points through this series, and if the Mavericks want to get past the Thunder, it is essential that their role players continue to step up, especially on the offensive end.

Hopefully, Jason Kidd and Irving can find a way to break through the Thunder's defensive scheme, or else this is going to be a very long series for Kyrie. Either way, the Mavericks must find a way to generate efficient offense without their most dynamic playmaker. If yesterday was any indication, the Mavericks may be going home sooner than we would like if they can't find a rhythm on offense.

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