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Mavericks Hoping to Continue Success over Kevin Durant

The Dallas Mavericks have emerged as a top level defensive team in the league.  After a five-day "break" the Mavericks next defensive assignment have them will heading to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.  Dallas will have to concentrate on slowing down the NBA’s scoring leader, Kevin Durant, and the Thunder once again, after going into Oklahoma City Arena and coming out with a 111-103 road win on Nov. 24.  The young scoring machine has run wild against just about every team in the NBA...except the Dallas Mavericks. 

In Kevin Durant's career, he's averaged fewer than 20 points/game against just two teams -- Dallas (18.7) and the Orlando Magic (17.6).  A product of conference alignment, Durant has played more than twice as many games against the Mavericks (11) as the Magic (5).  Durant's career field goal percentage is below 40 percent against only two teams, the same two: 37.4% (68-of-182) against the Mavericks; 37.0% (30-of-81) against the Magic.

The Thunder's last opponent, the Denver Nuggets, tried to force Kevin Durant to work hard on both ends of the court in an attempt to tire him out at the end of the game.  That didn't work out as Durant scored 44 points, 21 in the third quarter alone, in the 114-106 victory on Christmas Night.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the 24th time in NBA history that a player scored at least 40 points in a game played on Christmas. Only one player was younger than Durant (22 years, 87 days old) at the time of the achievement: Tracy McGrady, who was 21 years, 215 days old when he scored 43 points for Orlando at Indiana in 2000.

"Denver threw everything at him but the kitchen sink," said Dwane Casey, Dallas' defensive "coordinator" who will handle the head coaching duties against the Thunder with Rick Carlisle sidelined after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week. "We've got to be creative, (use) different match-ups and different looks for a guy like that. Because once a guy like that gets going, it's hard to turn him off. Not only that, he's a very willing passer and you've got guys like (James) Harden, (Russell) Westbrook and (Jeff) Green that can jump up and hit you for 20.  We have to make sure we are exact on what we want to do on his (isolations), on his post-ups, on his catch-and-shoots. Giving him different looks is the most important thing."

Just as opposing teams try to shut down the Mavericks' stud, Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas will have to use a similar approach as they attempt to shut down Kevin Durant.  The Mavericks will have to throw different looks and different defenders at Kevin Durant.  "Like any great player,  if you give Dirk (Nowitzki) the same look, he’s going to exploit it," said Casey.  "So, we want to make sure we give (Durant) a variety of looks, a variety of defenses and make sure that we make all of his shots tough."

The Mavericks want to continue their success against Kevin Durant, add an another impressive victory to their resume and play hard for their interim coach and the coach resting at home.  It won't be easy as the Oklahoma City Arena is a tough place to play.  "It’s always a tough challenge, especially in that building, because it’s like a college atmosphere," Jason Terry concluded. "And we won’t hear (Carlisle’s) voice, but the system is still the same."  For the players, It might be in their best interest to win.  Two happy coaches (Carlisle and Casey) are better than two angry coaches.  


Quick Notes:

The Dallas Mavericks lead the NBA in wins over teams with winning records with 12.  The Oklahoma City Thunder are 4th in the league with 8 wins.  Dwane Casey has a 43-59 record as an NBA head coach.  Even with just over a full season's worth of actual head coaching experience, Casey has been in the mix for the past couple of off-seasons for open coaching vacancies around the league.  

The Texas Legends outscored the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 36-18 in the third quarter en route to a 101-86 victory on Sunday night, ending the Legends three game losing streak.  Dominique Jones would finish the game with a career-high 30 points, which is also a new Legends single-game scoring record in the team’s short existence. The rookie for the Dallas Mavericks also tallied six rebound and six assists in the win.