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Kyrie Irving: Mavericks must analyze attitude, Thunder tendencies to flip playoff series

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (R) makes a layup past Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (L) and forward Derrick Jones Jr. during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA Western Conference semifinals series Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Photo by Adam Davis/EPA-EFE
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (R) makes a layup past Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (L) and forward Derrick Jones Jr. during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA Western Conference semifinals series Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Photo by Adam Davis/EPA-EFE

May 8 (UPI) -- Kyrie Irving says the Dallas Mavericks must shift their attitude and continue to study Oklahoma City Thunder player tendencies if they want to snatch back momentum in their Western Conference semifinal series.

"I don't want to dive too deep into it," Irving told reporters after the 111-89 Game 1 loss Tuesday in Oklahoma City. "Shoutout to my teammates because they know what I'm talking about, but just attitude-wise, in terms of the approach of what we're going into and knowing they are going to play four very high-pace quarters.

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"They are not going to slow down or get into the half court too often."

The Thunder outshot the Mavericks 44.9% to 39.3%. They also shot 45.7% from 3-point range, compared to the Mavericks' 34.3% clip. They held a 52-39 edge in rebounding.

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All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, an NBA MVP candidate, totaled 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the victory. He scored 19 in the first half.

Thunder center Chet Holmgren and forward Jalen Williams chipped in 19 and 18 points, respectively. Holmgren also logged seven rebounds and three blocks. The Thunder dished out 29 assists against just nine turnovers. The Mavericks totaled 19 assists and 15 turnovers.

"We know the plays they run in the half court," said Irving, who scored 20 points for the Mavericks.

"But when they are getting out in transition and they're getting the ball hopping a little bit and Chet is flowing into a lot of drag screens or a lot of trail opportunities, where he is attacking downhill, those are the things we have to clean up.

"That's what I'm talking about, the attitude and approach to those things happening and also being aware of our adjustments from that. If they score on one play, that's one thing. But if they continue to come down and run the same play or run different actions going at different guys, then we just have to be prepared."

Forward Luguentz Dort scored just seven points, but played a key role in holding Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic to just six made shots off 19 attempts (31.6%). Doncic, who went 1 for 8 from 3-point range, totaled 19 points.

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"We lost," Doncic said. "We just got to move onto the next one. We've got to be better."

The Thunder, who led by as many as 25 points, exchanged the lead with the Mavericks eight times in the first quarter. The game was tied 23-23 to start the second.

The lead continue to change hands early on in that frame before the Thunder went on a 16-5 run and never trailed again. They led 62-53 at halftime. The Mavericks used a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to 65-66 about 4:35 into the second half, but never got closer.

The Thunder responded with 19-6 run and carried an 89-79 lead into the fourth quarter. They outscored their road foes 28-16 over the final 12 minutes to seal the victory.

The Thunder will host the Mavericks in Game 2 at 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday in Oklahoma City. Game 3 of the best-of-seven game series will be Saturday in Dallas.

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The winner of the series will meet the Minnesota Timberwolves or Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals. The Timberwolves beat the Nuggets 106-80 on Monday to take a 2-0 lead in that series. Game 3 will be at 9:30 p.m. Friday in Minneapolis.

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