Dallas Mavericks (23-5, 10-1 road) vs. OKC Thunder (21-10, 11-5 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.8 (8th), Mavericks– 109.2 (10th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.5 (18th), Mavericks – 102.8 (7th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.0 (13th), Mavericks – 91.0 (21st)
View from the enemy: The Two Man Game
A true opportunity to make another statement for the Thunder. The Mavericks are at the top of the West and are performing as well as anyone. They defend, score and have crunch-time operators. They’re really, really good. But OKC can play with them. OKC can beat them. The Mavs already got the Thunder once in Oklahoma City when the Thunder fell apart in the fourth. Let’s hope for lessons learned.
Dallas coming in: After winning 11 straight, Dallas lost to Milwaukee. But the Mavs are back on a streak, winning their last four, which included a sweep of Miami and Orlando. Impressive.
Defending Dirk. It’s so, so tough. I like using Kevin Durant on Nowitzki because of KD’s length, but Jeff Green will likely get a lot of the work on him as well as Serge Ibaka. What makes Dallas tough is having Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood inside. Dirk can hover on the perimeter on both ends while the Mavs have two solid interior players to pick up slack.
The X-factor for the Mavs though is Jason Terry. Thabo will have a big job tonight in limiting him. If Terry gets cooking, Dallas is just almost impossible to beat. With Caron Butler, Terry and Dirk, Dallas can have three potent scorers filling it up on you at once. That’s tough to defend.
However, on the Thunder side, Russell Westbrook gives OKC a good advantage over Jason Kidd. The Mavs beat OKC with the 3-ball last time, but the Thunder’s improved some defensively since the first meeting and Durant is starting to lock in offensively. James Harden will play a Jason Terry-ish role tonight for the Thunder in that if he scores and plays well, OKC has a good shot.
A big game in downtown OKC against a good opponent. Don’t call them a rival, but still, beating the Mavs is always good times.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go El Trueno.