Another week, another tough back-to-back. The Mavericks, fresh off an upsetting overtime loss to Cleveland on Tuesday night, fly to Oklahoma City to take on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on Wednesday, continuing arguably the toughest stretch for the team all season.
WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME THESE TEAMS MET?
Speaking of upsetting losses, the Thunder beat the Mavs back on Nov. 22 minus Durant thanks to a crunch-time meltdown that saw Dallas rack up 108 points with just under four minutes left to play, then manage just two field goals the rest of the way. That snapped what was a season-high six-game winning streak for Dallas, back when the Mavericks actually had a better record (9-4) than the Thunder (7-6). That the Thunder now sit at 27-12 gives you an indication of how their season has gone since.
WHAT WILL BE A KEY STAT IN THE GAME?
I'll be looking to see if Dallas can keep the rebounding margin even somewhat close. Oklahoma City leads the league in rebounding differential (plus-6.6 rebounds per game) and they led the league in this category in each of the previous two seasons, as well. They are especially effective at limiting defensive rebounds, through a combination of their own efficient scoring (second in the league in points per shot) and hogging the offensive glass (second in the league in offensive rebounds to the Detroit Drummonds).
WHO IS EVEN GOING TO PLAY FOR DALLAS?
We won't know until a few hours before tipoff, but a starting lineup similar to what we saw last Wednesday against the Pelicans is possible. Dirk Nowitzki played 38 minutes on Tuesday night and will, in all likelihood, earn some rest. Chandler Parsons, Wesley Matthews, and Deron Williams played upwards of 41 minutes in the overtime loss and one or all could be held out tonight, as well. Zaza Pachulia played just 32 minutes, so I'd guess he'll go, but then again, I said the same thing last week against New Orleans and instead he sat.
HOW TO WATCH
The game is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest for Dallas locals and League Pass for any out-of-towners. Enjoy!