Mavericks vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
Mavericks (16-29, 6-17 road) vs. Thunder (27-19, 15-6 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 104.8 (16th), Mavericks – 103.1 (24th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.3 (9th), Mavericks – 106.1 (19th)
The Oklahoma City Thunder finished .500 on their longest road of the season. In what many thought would be a land mine on the schedule for the Thunder, instead turned out to be nothing more than a flesh wound. It hurt at times, but ultimately, the Thunder would survive. And by survival, of course, I mean their standing in the Western Conference playoff race.
One of the things I watched closely was how far ahead the Thunder were of the No. 9 team in the West. After 12 games in January, ten of which were on the road, the Thunder have managed to maintain a 7.5 game lead on the 9th spot in the West. They’ve set themselves up nicely for a home-heavy February schedule as they battle for the 5th and, possibly, the 4th position in the West.
Season Series Preview
This is the first of three meetings this season between the Thunder and Mavericks. The Thunder swept the season series last year, winning two of the games in blowout fashion and winning the other two by three points apiece. Then the teams meet in the first round of the playoffs, where the Thunder soundly beat the Mavericks in 5 games. This will be Dallas’ only trip to the ‘Peake this season.
The Mavericks come into this game with a 16-29 record, having won 5 of their last 7 games. The Mavs are in that horrible “mid-life crisis” phase, where they know they should probably start rebuilding, but also have loyalty pacts with some of their more veteran players (namely, Dirk Nowitzki and JJ Barea). Injuries completely killed any momentum they tried to develop earlier in the season, and they’ve been playing Sisyphus ever since. The good news for the Mavs is that something around 35 wins will likely get you in the running for 8th place in the West.
3 Big Things
1. Trap Game Potential
The Mavericks slipped some roofies in the drinks of a couple of their players last night and left to Oklahoma City without them. (I’m kidding, I think) Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, JJ Barea, and Wes Matthews all stayed behind in Dallas to rest after playing last night against the Knicks. The Thunder have a habit of playing down to the level of their competition at times, and tonight would be the wrong time to do that. The Thunder need to come out with laser focus like they did in the first half last night, and not take their foot off the pedal if the lead balloons to 20 or more.
The Mavericks are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. The Thunder are one of the best. If things stick to the script, the Thunder should dominate the boards, which will hopefully help them in their transition game.
3. Seth Curry
Of the players left on the active roster for the Mavericks this game, Curry is the best shooter. He’s currently shooting 42% from deep on 4.1 attempts per game. He’s a Curry and he’s playing in Oklahoma City. I’m always very leery of that combination.