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Extraordinary shotmaking has defined the Mavericks-Thunder series both ways

The Mavericks and the Thunder have survived and fallen thanks to their extreme shotmaking.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant shot out of a cannon straight into the American Airlines Center on Thursday evening. The duo combined for 60 points and 18 assists after a forgettable performance, and though an ailing Mavs squad hobbled to a respectable performance, they simply did not have the firepower to compete with an explosive OKC squad. Rick Carlisle and his bag of tricks stole a win on Monday in Oklahoma City, but if Carlisle's magic doesn't translate to shotmaking, Dallas will be booking trips on Travelocity very soon.

Through three games, this series has been decided by lopsided shotmaking. In Game 1, Dallas couldn't throw the ball into the ocean, scoring a franchise playoff-low 70 points on a putrid 29 percent from the field. In Game 2, Durant played possibly the worst game of his career by shooting 7-33 from the field. Both games were clearly marked by catastrophic shot making and Game 3 was no different.

Without Deron Williams, Dallas path to success -- paved by churning low turnover, low pace offense into steady half court defense -- fell by the wayside. JJ Barea played admirably with a strained right groin, but he was clearly hobbled by the injury. And while Felton pickup up the slack for a bit for Barea, neither could generate enough offense to combat the onslaught of threes from the Thunder.

Dallas can survive if Westbrook and Durant hit difficult shots, but when OKC's smorgasbord of off guards start threading the net, they stand no chance. Thunder players not named Durant or Westbrook shot 10-of-15 from beyond the arc. At one point, Enes Kanter nailed a corner three and exchanged some pleasantries with the Mavs' bench. The remaining survivors on Waiters Island received a care package when the former No. 4-overall pick dropped 19 points on 11 shots. The shotmaking is unsustainable over an 82-game season, but in a seven-game series, anything is possible. However, the Mavericks must stay the course if they want to compete in this series.

"It's just continuing what we're doing," Wesley Matthews said. "They made some shots; they made some tough shots. Waiters came off the bench and made some tough shots. Kanter made one shot. Russ comes down and hits two threes back to back on us, that's tough. Shots that weren't falling, fell."

This kind of back breaking shot making has a ripple effect when it happens in the early portion of the game. Dallas could never quite recover after OKC bolted out to a quick start in the first quarter.

"I thought early in the game we were doing a lot of things," Rick Carlisle said. "We got good shots that didn't go in. We were missing and they were making. I have to see during that period of time, what else was lost because we had low turnovers."

Again, this is where the Mavericks miss Deron Williams. He's a timely shot maker on a roster that's bereft of that skill. Without Williams barrage of threes in the first quarter of that game, they don't sniff a victory in OKC. The Mavericks need every weapon in their depleted armory to knife away at the significant talent gap between them and the Thunder. In Game 3 they shot 47 percent from the field as a team, but only 26 percent on six made threes. It's not enough for this team to hit two-pointers at an efficient rate; they have to win the battle from behind the beyond the arc.

Carlisle can summon every basketball spirit from the underworld, but it won't make a difference if Dallas can't equalize the shot making equation. It's a task easier said than done when two of the 10 best players in the league play for the opposition.

"Just make shots" sounds like lazy analysis, but without shot making, the Mavericks' grinding style won't be effective. The Thunder shot making had an adverse affect on the Mavericks' competitive edge until Felton's spat with Steven Adams.

"I think when we look back at this game, we're going to have some regrets with some of the periods where we didn't compete the way we needed to compete," Carlisle said.

It's a make or miss league. If Dallas wants to survive, it'll come down to makes and misses.