Preview 36 of 82: Mavericks @ Thunder
Time: 7:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
The Oklahoma City Thunder (22-13) are back in action after last night’s loss in Dallas, as they’ll close out 2018 with a New Year’s Eve rematch with the Mavericks (17-18) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Mavericks defeated OKC 105-103 last night behind 25 points and seven assists from rookie Luka Doncic. Paul George scored a game-high 36 points and put the Thunder in the lead before the team melted down in the final minutes. Russell Westbrook was extremely inefficient, scoring nine points on 4-of-22 shooting — an outing he’ll try to rectify in tonight’s rematch.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 8-point home favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Alex Abrines: Out — Personal
- Terrance Ferguson: Questionable — Illness
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Wesley Matthews: Questionable — Foot
- Dirk Nowitzki: Questionable — Rest
Mavs: Dennis Smith Jr, Luka Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Maxi Kleber, DeAndre Jordan
What to Watch For
Confident Westbrook. Westbrook put forth an abysmal effort last night in Dallas, as he shot 18.7 percent from the floor and went 0-of-8 from long range. He finished with nine points, nine rebounds, eight assists, six steals, and five turnovers. The recent struggles aren’t lost on the former MVP, as he told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, “It’s really on me. I’ve been s— the last month or so. I’ve just got to get focused in and locked back in on what I need to do. I’ve got to help my guys out. I’ve been letting them down, man, just not being consistent on the offensive end.”
While his assessment isn’t incorrect, Westbrook remains as confident as ever. He went on to tell MacMahon, “Scoring the basketball is not the only thing I can do. I’m the best rebounder at my position, the best passer at my position, the best defender at my position. I can do everything, and I pride myself on doing that.”
Something tells me Westbrook will come out aggressive tonight in OKC. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle feels the same, as he said last night, “We got lucky because he had an off shooting night. Knowing him, I’m not looking forward to tomorrow night.”
Worth Keeping. Although the Thunder dropped last night’s game in Dallas, one aspect worth carrying over is how often the OKC defense forced Dallas into turnovers. The Mavs turned it over 23 times (OKC had 11) and that translated into a 31-4 advantage for the Thunder in transition scoring.
The Bigs. Steven Adams posted eight points and nine rebounds last night, shooting 4-of-5 from the field in the process. On the other side, DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 17 rebounds. A more aggressive approach from Adams would provide a big boost tonight, as Dallas won 49-39 on the glass just 24 hours ago.
Starting Five. Abdel Nader entered the starting lineup for Terrance Ferguson last night in Dallas, scoring three points on 1-of-5 shooting. Though Ferguson wasn’t on the injury report, he drew a DNP after dealing with an illness prior to the game. Should he be unavailable tonight, Nader would likely be in the starting five yet again.