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Mavericks at Thunder Preview: Can Dallas take the season series against Oklahoma City?

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The Mavericks hold a 2-1 regular season advantage over the hard-charging Thunder

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Oklahoma City Thunder done lately?

As the Thunder look to solidify a playoff spot, Oklahoma City has won seven of its last ten games. With Russell Westbrook playing out of his mind lately, the Thunder have run over a weaker portion off their schedule only stumbling against the Spurs, Jazz, and our Dallas Mavericks in mid-March. The Thunder will be coming off two days rest following a big victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

What are Oklahoma City's biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Other than having a MVP caliber point guard in Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are leading the league in rebounds. Despite missing Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City has put out a front line featuring two of the most solid rebounders in the game in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. Russell Westbrook shoots and those two clean up the glass. They simply bully teams over the course of a game.

However, despite being brilliant on the glass, the Thunder are in the bottom third in the league defensively. Missing Kevin Durant and a shot blocker like Ibaka hurts the most, but the team is made up of a number of turnstile defenders, most notably Kanter. He's a big reason why teams are always in the game against the Thunder.

Which Dallas Maverick might be in for a big game?

If Monta Ellis is able to play against Oklahoma City, expect a bounce back game for a player who just had a massive game streak broken. If he's unable to go, then Dirk Nowitzki is the next Maverick up. Dirk's three point barrage against the Thunder in mid March was a huge reason for the comeback victory. Kanter spent most of the time "guarding" Dirk, so this could be a big game for the Big German.

What do the Mavericks need to do to be successful against Oklahoma City?

With the Thunder it's a two step process: step one, contain Russell Westbrook. Now, it takes a team effort to contain him but it has to be understood that stopping Westbrook isn't really an achievable goal. Control the ball on offense and don't give him chances at fast break points. Stay in front of him as best as possible and don't foul him at the rim. Step two is grab rebounds. Westbrook is almost exclusively the entire offense and he can't make every shot. Mitch McGary, of all people, destroyed Dallas on the glass in the last game. That can't happen again. All Dallas needs to do is hang around in a game like this. The Thunder are very talented, but against a smart team like Dallas, they can be their own worst enemy.