Mavericks (39-27, 18-17 road) vs. Thunder (48-17, 28-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.4 (5th), Mavs – 110.7 (4th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.2 (5th), Mavs – 108.6 (23rd)
Pace: Thunder – 95.8 (8th), Mavs – 94.0 (15th)
UPDATE: Russell Westbrook will sit tonight’s game. Reggie Jackson will start. The Thunder are starting a back-to-back, and Westbrook will be available to play the Bulls tomorrow.
Did you know: The Thunder have beaten the Mavs 11 straight times? That’s a lot of straight times. For whatever reason, since the Western Conference finals where Dallas finished OKC in five games, things have completely turned around between these two teams. But with the Mavs desperate to win at all costs right now, as they’re in a frantic fight for the eight-seed, they’re surely going to give OKC a battle tonight.
What the Thunder have to be keen on, is moving things forward. They’re back on track and feeling good about themselves on both ends of the floor. The defensive efforts against the Rockets and Lakers were superb, so with a talented Mavs team in with difficult matchup players like Dirk and Monta Ellis, the Thunder will have to continue to play well.
Plus: The Spurs have won nine straight and while there are weeks remaining in the NBA season, you don’t want to start falling behind. When the Spurs win, you need to win too.
Three Big Things
1. Dirk. He’s a problem, and always has been. Though Serge Ibaka has greatly improved in defending the big German, and Nick Collison has always done quality work there as well.
2. Perimeter D. The Mavs shoot the 3 well, hitting 38 percent as a team from deep (fourth overall). They don’t shoot a ton, but they do have players that are highly capable of taking and making from 3. Give the Mavs space, and you’re looking at giving up 12 or 13 makes from moneyball terriroty.
3. Rotations. We saw Jeremy Lamb essentially eliminated from the rotation against the Lakers. Do things remain that way, or was that just the way that game played out? Andre Roberson is set to start covering Monta Ellis, but who plays behind him? How many minutes does Caron Butler play and what’s the preferred closing lineup if it’s close?
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Sunday.