Dirk Nowitzki’s Bout of Perfection
See? This is what happens when the best-shooting 7-footer ever to play in the NBA gets hot from the free throw line. You get a chance to witness perfection. You also get a chance to see a record-setting performance from the charity stripe as Dirk Nowitzki surpassed the previous record of most free throw makes in a playoff game without a miss set by Paul Pierce.
The old record was 21 in a row, but thanks to Nowitzki’s unstoppable Game One, the record now stands at 24, all of which are contained in the lead video. For his efforts, Nowitzki finished with 48 points, while only taking 15 shots. Considering the NBA is all about efficiency now, Dirk’s game earned him a solid +12 on the NBA’s ubiquitous plus/minus rating.
Stats only begin to tell the story, however. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s defense on Nowitzki, be it James Harden, Serge Ibka, or Thabo Sefolosha, was simply toyed with the entire game. When they decided to double team the German assassin, Nowitzki routinely found an open shooter, usually in the form of Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, or Jason Kidd, who would punish the Thunder defense for slow rotations.
That being said, the Thunder were in a no-win situation. They had no chance of stopping Nowitzki in an one-on-one setting, so it was a “pick your poison” scenario, with either options offering little in the way of successful defense. Furthermore, the Thunder got a great game from Kevin Durant, who also had his way at the free throw line, converting on 18 of 19 attempts and finishing with 40 points; although, he only rated a -1 in the plus/minus category.
So what can we expect going forward? More of the same from the Mavericks and Nowitzki or will the Thunder actually be able to solve the conundrum that is Dirk Nowitzki’s ability to score the basketball? Game Two is Thursday night, but if Nowitzki continues to perform at such an unstoppable level, go ahead and pencil the Mavericks in for the NBA Finals.