Mavericks star Luka Doncic looks to bounce back from rough Game 1 against the Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — As Oklahoma City prepared to host the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault was asked how his team would brace for Luka Doncic's physical style.

Daigneault quipped that he just needed lockdown defender Lu Dort to show up on time for the game.

Dort did more than just arrive on time. He was the defensive catalyst as the Thunder held Doncic, the league's regular-season scoring leader, to 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting in Oklahoma City's 117-95 victory.

Doncic has been nursing a knee injury since the first round of the playoffs. It could be affecting him, though he refused to make excuses after Game 1.

That doesn't mean Oklahoma City is off the hook, though — Kyrie Irving is fully capable of scoring more. He often defers to Doncic, but he might not do that so much if his teammate struggles early in Game 2 on Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Daigneault said he's prepared if Irving chooses to shoulder more of the offensive load. Irving is averaging 25.6 points per game on 51.2% shooting in the playoffs. He scored 20 in the opener against the Thunder.

“We’re expecting that pitch in Game 2 and Game 3 and so on and so forth,” Daigneault said.

Irving, who won a championship with Cleveland in 2016, didn't make much of the opening loss.

“We just have to adjust to the team we’re playing against,” Irving said. “I think that’s the most important thing. This Game 1 is done. We didn’t play as well as we would have liked. We failed on a lot of our coverages. And we didn’t come in with the attitude that was necessary.”

Daigneault expects a difficult Game 2.

“We know they’re going to come out aggressively, confidently,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of experience under their belt. They’re not going to be rattled by one playoff loss. And so we’ve got to rise to that.”

Boston's Jayson Tatum, like Doncic, wasn't at his best in his Game 1 on Tuesday. The difference was his teammates stepped up in the Celtics' 120-95 win over Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Tatum had 18 points on 7-for-19 shooting in the opener, but Jaylen Brown scored 32 points and Derrick White added 25.

Tatum wasn't worried when his shots weren't falling.

“We’ve got a really talented team," Tatum said. "It shows the depth of our team, and how we can win games in a lot of different ways.”


Oklahoma City leads 1-0. Game 2, 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, ESPN

— NEED TO KNOW: The Thunder have allowed 95 or fewer points in all five of their playoff games, all wins. Rookie Chet Holmgren was critical defensively for Oklahoma City with his presence at the rim in Game 1. The 7-foot-1 center blocked three shots and altered numerous others. Oklahoma City scored near its regular season average of 120 points in the opener, despite Dort making 2 of 9 shots, Jalen Williams connecting on just 6 of 15 and Josh Giddey making 1 of 4.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's free throws. He made 11 of 13 from the line in Game 1. He made just 8 of 19 field goals, but he dominated the game by getting Mavericks players out of position.

— INJURY WATCH: Dallas will likely be without Maxi Kleber for this series because of a shoulder injury. He averaged 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in the regular season.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Williams recovered from a cold start as a shooter on Tuesday and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. He'll likely need to shoot better early in Game 2. Williams also was the primary defender on Irving in Game 1, and he could be tested more with Doncic seemingly ailing.


Boston leads 1-0. Game 2, 7 p.m. EDT Thursday, ESPN

— NEED TO KNOW: The Celtics rolled over the Cavaliers in the opener of their second-round series on Tuesday, showing few signs of rust after their extended layoff following their first-round series win over Chicago. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Derrick White combined for 75 of Boston’s points in Game 1. White and Brown were also responsible for 11 of the Celtics’ 18 3-pointers. Donovan Mitchell had 33 points in 37 minutes but didn’t get a lot of help from a supporting cast that was without center Jarrett Allen for the fourth straight game with a rib injury.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Bench scoring. Boston’s reserves held a 24-15 edge in Game 1, getting 16 points, including four 3-pointers, from Payton Pritchard. It creates yet another scoring threat for the Cavs to account for as they try to keep pace with a Celtics offense that is averaging 109.8 points per game. Cleveland is averaging 95.8.

— INJURY WATCH: Allen was questionable heading into Game 1 and will likely be again heading into Game 2. Celtics 7-footer Kristaps Porzingis is still recovering from his strained right calf. He did a little court work on Wednesday, and coach Joe Mazzulla said he’s moving better. But there’s no reason for Porzingis to rush back.

— PRESSURE IS ON: The Cavaliers. Big man Evan Mobley simply isn’t the defender that Allen is at the rim. Boston’s 3-point shooting ability, combined with the 42 points in the paint it had in Game 1, are something the Cavs need to figure out fast to avoid going back to Cleveland down 0-2.


AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report.