Preview 63 of 82: Thunder @ Mavericks
Time: 7:30 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
The Thunder offense has struggled to find its rhythm since the All-Star break, with the OK3 combining for just 77 points in the last two games. Paul George shot a combined 3-for-16 from long distance after shooting better than 40 percent from three heading into the break. Monday night, Russell Westbrook missed out on a triple-double because of points for the first time in his career. Coach Billy Donovan attributed the shooting slump to the All-Star break interrupting the players’ flow and suggested it will take a couple of games to get back into it.
Tonight, the Thunder (35-27) faces the Mavericks (19-42) in Dallas. Despite their rising rookie star, Dennis Smith, Jr., the Mavs have struggled to create a consistent offense. In the Thunder’s two previous losses to the Mavs, it was more an issue of what OKC didn’t do than what the Mavs did. In one loss, George and Steven Adams combined for just 8 points. In the other loss, the OK3 and Adams all scored in double figures (including 38 points from Westbrook), but the Thunder bench combined for just 19 points (12 of them coming from Raymond Felton alone).
OKC currently sits at 7th in the Western Conference, tied with the Pelicans and a half-game behind the Blazers for the 5th seed. Tonight’s game is easily winnable if the Thunder can step out of the shooting slump. With the Western Conference race so close, every remaining game matters.
Tip-off is at 7:30 PM CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is 5.5-point favorite according to Odds Shark.
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Seth Curry: Out — Leg
- Dorian Finney-Smith: Out — Quad
- Nerlens Noel: Questionable — Thumb
Mavs: Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Powell
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Thunder O & D
Mavs O & D
Nov 12: OKC 112 DAL 99 [BOX SCORE]
Nov 25: DAL 97 OKC 81 [BOX SCORE]
Dec 31: DAL 116 OKC 113 [BOX SCORE]
OK3 vs. the Refs. After Monday’s win over the Magic, Paul George was very outspoken about how the OK3 is officiated differently than other players. George said, “We’re just officiated differently, all three of us. And it’s tough. At least one of us [should] get the benefit of the doubt. But when we’re on that floor, no one is getting the better side of that whistle.” When asked about the officiating, Coach Donovan echoed George’s sentiments. George was fined $15,000 in November for making similar comments.
Bench on the Rise. The Thunder bench had a terrific outing on Monday night. They combined for 48 points — 13 from Raymond Felton and 12 from Alex Abrines. A consistent bench would be a huge asset to the Thunder heading into the playoffs. Currently, the Thunder bench ranks 14th in the NBA in bench net rating. However, they’ve improved from ranking 23rd earlier in the season. Patrick Patterson has yet to break out as a consistent offensive option but he had a particularly great night shooting on Monday, going 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Another nice night from the reserves would be a welcomed boost against Dallas.
Brewer Buyout. Lakers shooting guard Corey Brewer was bought out by the Los Angeles Lakers today and Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) is reporting that the Thunder may be interested in acquiring him to fill the empty roster spot. Brewer played under Coach Donovan at Florida when they won back-to-back NCAA championships. Brewer is a solid defensive wing but leaves much to be desired on offense. However, he would be a quality veteran presence for the Thunder and could provide useful minutes for OKC at a low cost. In 54 games for the Lakers, Brewer averaged 3.7 PPG in about 13 minutes per game. Since Brewer was waived before the March 1st deadline, he would be eligible for the playoffs.
Getting the Easy Ones: Dallas is just 3-7 over the last ten games and should lack the firepower to beat a Thunder team that needs every win it can get. However, the Mavs have beaten OKC twice this season, so anything can happen. They’re led in scoring by Harrison Barnes (18.2 PPG) and Dennis Smith Jr. (14.6 PPG), but are 27th in the NBA in points per game and 27th in rebounding. This is a game the Thunder needs to take care of early.