Time: 6:00 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Thunder exorcised recent demons on Friday night in Oklahoma City, riding a 42 point performance from Paul George to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers by a final score of 120-111. OKC now sits at 5-7 on the season, and squares off against the 2-11 Dallas Mavericks tonight at 6 PM CT at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Steven Adams is listed as out in the Thunder game notes, and will miss his second consecutive contest due to a calf contusion. Dakari Johnson got the start against the Clippers, and will be in the starting five again versus Dallas. He performed well opposite DeAndre Jordan on Friday, logging 23 minutes and scoring 9 points on 3/5 shooting.
The Mavericks are led by Harrison Barnes and super-rookie, Dennis Smith Jr. The first-year point guard is averaging 14.8 points and 5.1 assists for Dallas — a bright spot in what has been a disappointing start for the Mavs. The Thunder should have no problem picking up another win at home, but the key will be maintaining the momentum from Friday night.
Let’s get into some details.
Update: Carmelo Anthony was a late scratch due to a back soreness. Jerami Grant will start at power forward
- Steven Adams: Out — Calf
- Carmelo Anthony: Out — Back
- Devin Harris: Questionable — Ribs
- Seth Curry: Out — Leg
- Josh McRoberts: Out — Leg
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Keeping PG13 Rolling. Paul George recorded 42 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists against the Clippers — shooting 13/22 and 4/7 from downtown. He looked much more fluid in the Thunder offense, and got several good looks off screens and off-ball movement. The Thunder will likely look to him early in this one.
More is less for Melo. Carmelo Anthony took just 12 shots against the Clippers on Friday, finishing with a stat line of 14 points and 6 rebounds in 31 minutes. His ability to keep the ball moving and turn down contested looks will continue to be important for Oklahoma City, and it’s hopefully an experiment that continues tonight.
Abrines signs of life. Alex Abrines snapped out of his recent funk on Friday, scoring 14 points in 21 minutes. He shot 3/4 from long distance, and displayed exactly what is envisioned for him in the Thunder offense. His ability to spread the floor and hit shots off the bench will be key in any OKC stretch run, so ideally Friday was a turning of the corner for Abrines.
Too much defense. Dallas enters ranking 27th in the NBA in scoring, averaging just 99.5 points per game. The Thunder defense remains second in the NBA in points allowed per contest at 98.4, and will likely exploit a Mavericks team void of many threats.
On the glass. The Thunder has struggled on the boards through 12 games, ranking 21st in the NBA at 42.1 per game. Dallas has been even worse, coming in at 41.1 per contest — tied for 26th in the league. Oklahoma City should be able to win on the glass, regardless of whether Steven Adams is there or not.
Dirk Nowitzki fading. Dirk Nowitzki comes in averaging just 10.5 points per game on 42 percent shooting. The scoring average is his lowest since his rookie season in 1998-99, but he’s still converting 44 percent of his tries from long distance. He’s a shell of his former self, but the Thunder will need to keep an eye on him. If there’s a team he’ll get hot against, it’s this one.
Nerlens Watch. Nerlens Noel signed a one-year deal with the Mavericks over the offseason, but has already fallen out of favor with Rick Carlisle. After logging just six minutes against Washington last Tuesday, he followed that up with a DNP in the Mavericks’ next game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Noel is a difference maker, but the Thunder should see more Salah Mejri in this one.
Mavericks @ Thunder. 6 PM CT tip on Fox Sports Oklahoma.