First and foremost, this needs to be said: The Oklahoma City Thunder played an incredible Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks. And truth be told, it's hard to pin the blame on anyone. Sure, they didn't play perfectly, but they gave it their all. No one should ever blame them for that.

Not to mention that this is a young team that not only topped the conference but also won a playoff series. They pushed a talented team in the Mavericks to a Game 6 and almost had a Game 7 had they not blown their lead. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Co. can definitely hold their heads high after such an incredible display of playoff basketball. The future is definitely bright for this young OKC squad.

However, in this piece, we try nitpick the shortcomings, some costly mistakes and the other areas that Dallas exploited to take down Oklahoma City. With that being said, here are the most to blame for the Thunder's Game 6 loss to the Mavericks.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's crucial mistake

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) reacts after a play against the Dallas Mavericks
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played great in Game 6, finishing with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting. He also had three rebounds, eight assists and two blocks–which earned him the record of having the most blocks by a point guard in a playoff series.

Had the Thunder won, he would have been declared the hero of the game. Unfortunately, one particular bad play from SGA stood out: his foul on PJ Washington with three seconds left.

Many might see it as a controversial call, but it's a clear foul since Washington still had the ball when Gilgeous-Alexander hit him in the arm. At the end of the day, with the Thunder leading 116-115 at that point, SGA knew better that it's best not to foul.

Even the MVP finalist said it himself after the game: he shouldn't have fouled. It was an uncharacteristic move for a player that has been mostly phenomenal. That foul ended up deciding the game for them, and he simply has to live with it.

“It sucks. Obviously, if I had the moment back, I wouldn't have fouled him. I'd just let him make or miss the shot,” Gilgeous-Alexander shared.

Thunder's rebounding crew

The Mavericks and Thunder were evenly matched for the most part of the game. However, there is one area where Dallas absolutely dominated: the rebounding department.

Luka Doncic and his Dallas crew trailed the Thunder by as much as 17 points, but they were able to claw their way back thanks to some timely shooting and solid rebounding. They controlled the rebound throughout, but it made a ton of difference particularly in the second half.

Dallas outrebounded OKC 47-31, with their offensive rebounding stats at 14-7 and defensive rebounding at 33-24. Basically, the Mavs prevented the Thunder from getting plenty of second-chance points while earning themselves a number of that opportunity.

Dereck Lively II stood out big time for the Mavericks, as he grabbed 15 boards (11 defensive, four offensive) on top of 12 points. Lively's mobility and quickness in grabbing the boards proved to be a massive difference-maker that the Thunder just couldn't answer.

Despite the loss, the Thunder can head to the offseason with plenty to look forward to in the future. They might need to make some key additions to address the shortcomings they showed in the 2024 playoffs, but they are certainly in the right path to becoming an NBA powerhouse.