- When: Sunday, 16 March 2014 at 6:00 PM CST
- Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
This will be the first real test to see if this team has relocated its mojo. It was easy to get up for the Houston game because the Thunder had just lost its previous two games in embarrassing (by their standards) fashion and because of the team’s recent history with the Rockets. And the Lakers game was easy to mark down as a revenge game. But with the lack of recent histrionics with the Mavericks, this will be a good test to see if this team needs emotional juice to get itself pumped up for these last 16 games of the season.
This will be the 2nd meeting of the year between these two teams. The Thunder won the first game 107-93. In that game, Serge Ibaka had a double double with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
The Dallas Mavericks come into the game with a 39-27 record. They are the 7th seed in the Western Conference, 1 game ahead of the Phoenix Suns. The Mavs have the 8th best offense in terms of team scoring, at 104.2 ppg. They did a bit of an overhaul in the offseason, bringing in Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, and Samuel Dalembert. They’ve become more of a potent offensive team, but have suffered in terms of defense, giving up an average of 102.3 ppg. The offensive responsibility is now being shared by Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. Calderon does a good job of managing the team and Dalembert is average in the middle. The bench is veteran-laden, with former All-Stars Vince Carter and Devin Harris being major contributors.
Probable Starting Line-ups
- PG – Jose Calderon
- SG – Monta Ellis
- SF – Shawn Marion
- PF – Dirk Nowitzki
- C – Samuel Dalembert
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Russell Westbrook
- SG – Andre Roberson
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Steven Adams
3 Keys to the Game
1. Perimeter Defense – With hardly any inside presence, the Mavericks rely on the isolations skills of Nowitzki and Ellis to break down the defense. Both are adept at hitting the open man if double teamed.
2. Transition – Dallas has a lot of veterans on their team, but that also means they have some age on their team. If the Thunder can create turnovers and turn this into a horse race, the Thunder should be on the plus side of this.
3. Russell Rest Watch – The Thunder will be resting Westbrook on one of the games of the remaining 6 back to backs in the last month of the season. This will be the first B2B in that stretch. It would not surprise me if the Thunder chose to sit Westbrook in this game, instead of in the Chicago game.