NBA Playoffs: Youth prevails again, getting past the Mavericks in Game 1

In a matchup of dynamic duos, Oklahoma City reigned supreme Tuesday night.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Seth Holmgren led the Thunder to a 117-95 victory over Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks in the first game of their Western Conference semifinal series.

After a tight start tied at 23 after the first quarter, the Thunder asserted control to take a nine-point halftime lead. The Mavericks cut the deficit to three, but the Thunder pushed their lead back to double digits with a run of their own. The Mavericks never threatened in the fourth quarter, and the Thunder walked away with a convincing Game 1 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to a Game 1 victory over Kyrie Irving and the Mavericks.  (Joshua Gately/Getty Images)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to a Game 1 victory over Kyrie Irving and the Mavericks. (Joshua Gately/Getty Images)

Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder offense with 29 points to go along with nine rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and one steal. He had 19 at halftime, surpassing Doncic and Irving’s combined first-half effort (18 points).

Holmgren was a force on both ends of the court while posting 19 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. He shot 8 of 16 from the field.

After a six-point first half, Irving picked up the pace with nine third-quarter points, including a 3-pointer, to cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 66-65. But that’s not enough.

The Thunder responded with a 14-4 run by Dallas. They ended the run with Irving’s Holmgren block en route to a Gilgeous-Alexander 3-pointer at the other end.

The Thunder dominated the fourth quarter with a 28-16 run, turning a once-close game into a runaway victory.

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The Thunder entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the West, but were surrounded by questions about their reliability against playoff-tested teams. They are A younger roster in the postseason And there is a dearth of players with postseason experience.

That inexperience wasn’t an issue in the first-round sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans. Against a Mavericks team with playoff-tested stars in Doncic and Irving, that didn’t matter Tuesday night. Youth won against a Mavericks team that shot the ball poorly and turned it over 15 times.

OKC held Dallas to 39.3% shooting from the floor and 12-of-35 (34.3%) from long range. Doncic, nursing a lingering knee sprain, shot 6 of 19 from the field and made just 1 of his 8 3-point attempts. He finished with 19 points, nine assists, six rebounds and a minus-21 in the plus/minus column. Irving had 20 points and three assists while shooting 7 of 14 from the field and 3 of 4 from 3.

The Thunder countered with a 44.9% shooting night and 16-of-35 (45.7%) attempts from 3-point range. Seven Thunder players shot 40% or better with two or more 3-pointers.

Along with Holmgren (2 of 5) and Gilgeous-Alexander (2 of 4), Jalen Williams was one of them, hitting 2 of 5 3-pointers in an 18-point, five-rebound, five-assist night. Aaron Wiggins had 16 points, five rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes while shooting 3 of 4 from distance.

The series is in Oklahoma City for Game 2 on Thursday night.

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