Western Conference Quarterfinals (Best 4 of 7)
Mavericks (0-0, 0-0 road) vs. Thunder (0-0, 0-0 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 8:30 PM CST
Series tied 0-0
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.9 (2nd), Mavericks – 104.8 (10th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.0 (12th), Mavericks – 104.3 (16th)
It’s finally here. The moment we’ve all been waiting for since May 31st, 2014. A return trip back to the playoffs, after a moribund, injury-plagued season. A chance for redemption. A chance for the Oklahoma City Thunder to rewrite their story; rewrite their destiny. Every team is 0-0 at the moment. The first one to 16 victories gets the prize, the adulation, and the ring. Every team at this point in the game has a chance, no matter how minuscule it is. An calf sprain here, a torn meniscus there, and the favorite in the series can quickly become the underdog. Catch fire at the right time, and a deficit can become a lead in an instant. It’s a new journey, and 16 different flags are waving in the wind, trying to reach the finish line. And it begins, now. Hello, playoffs….you’ve been missed. Go ahead and stick around for at least 2 more months.
3 Big Things1. Establish Your Dominance
We hear the stat at the beginning of every series: The team that wins the first game goes on to win the series ___% of the time. The Thunder have been in series in which they won the first game and lost the series (2012 NBA Finals). They’ve also been in series in which they’ve lost the first game and then have gone on to win the series (2014 West Semi’s against the Clippers). Regardless of the outcome of the first game, one of the most important things to do in that first game is to focus in on your strengths and exploit them. Rebounding, transition offense, pace, points in the paint are just a couple of the things the Thunder will have over the Mavs. If they dominate in those areas, the game should tilt heavily in the Thunder’s favor.2. First-timers
For many on the Thunder, this is their first taste of real playoff basketball. Dion Waiter, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Singler, and Cameron Payne are complete neophytes to the second season, while Enes Kanter and Andre Roberson will be playing heavy rotation playoff minutes for the first time in their careers. This is where having veterans like Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammad on the bench comes in handy. Their experience will help calm the nerves of the playoff young’ins.3. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
Welcome back to the stage where you guys belong. The playoffs were a tad bit emptier last season without the Thunder’s dynamic duo. Order had finally been restored. Now go out there and feast.
Dirk Nowitzki – If its the Mavericks and its the playoffs, there’s no greater nightmare creature for Thunder fans than Dirk Nowitzki. I always think back to Game 1 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals, where Nowitzki torched the Thunder for 48 points on 12-15 shooting from the field and 24-24 from the FT line. A little side note to that stat line, he did not attempt a 3 that entire game. I know Nowitzki has aged, but if Kobe Bryant can drop 60 points in his final game, then anything is possible with aged scorers.