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3 things to watch as the Mavs host the Thunder

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The last time these two teams will meet this season.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks (31-41) will take on the Thunder (41-31) in Dallas at the American Airlines Center tonight. The Mavs will be looking to bounce back after their loss to the Raptors on Saturday night where they fell 94-86.

The last time these two teams met, the Mavericks won convincingly 104-89 and were led by Seth Curry (22 points) and Dirk Nowitzki (18 points and 13 rebounds).

According to ESPN’s BPI playoff odds, where they estimate the likelihood of each team making the playoffs, the Mavs have a current chance of 0.2 percent of getting there. What does this mean for the Mavericks? Well, they will be doing whatever they can to disrupt the other teams looking to get good playoff placement.

Here are three things to watch as the Mavericks take on the Thunder.

Desperation Thunder

The Thunder are sitting in sixth position with the Memphis Grizzlies hot on their tail only a game and a half behind, so they will be throwing everything at the Mavs tonight to try and protect their lead for that sixth seed.

If the current standings are any indication of what the playoff picture will look like, we will have a Thunder versus Rockets round one. That means Westbrook versus Harden, for potentially seven games. We all know at least one of them is going to have a massive chip on their shoulder after being snubbed for MVP. Now that is a round one matchup to get excited about!

Beware of the Brodie

I’ve said before how much of a fanboy of Russell Westbrook I am, and I always enjoy watching him go up against the Mavs (even if it can be at their expense). Westbrook’s MVP caliber season is like nothing I’ve seen before; he’s on a mission to destroy every team that is in front of him.

In the last eight games, Russ has notched a triple double in all but two of them and is scoring like a mad man, so the Mavericks will most definitely have their work cut out for them.

For the Mavericks to win this game they will have to do whatever possible to limit Westbrook’s efficiency and keep him from controlling too much of what happens. As the Dan Patrick saying goes, "You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him".

More minutes for Nerlens Noel

In the last two games, Rick Carlisle has opted to go with a starting lineup which features Nerlens Noel at center along with Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki. This lineup is what most fans probably predicted would happen once Nerlens got here, but with the success of Dirk playing at center, it took a little while for Rick to make the change.

When the Thunder last visited the Mavericks, Noel put up 13 points and four rebounds in 16 foul-riddled minutes. Considering what short time Nerlens had, these numbers are a nice contribution to what was a solid Mavs win.

If Noel can keep out of foul trouble and stick around for about 30 minutes, we can hope for a solid double-double to combat the Thunder’s front court of Steven Adams and Taj Gibson.

How to watch

You can catch the game on Fox Sports Southwest (or NBA League Pass outside of the Dallas area) starting at 7:30pm Central. Follow along with us to catch all of our game coverage!