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3 things to watch in a Mavericks vs. Thunder battle

The Mavs are back at home, facing Paul George and the win streak Thunder.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (3-8) are back at the AAC Saturday night, playing host to the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-4) for their first matchup of the season. OKC, who started the season 0-4, have put together a quite a win streak — the longest in the league right now.

After sustaining a bad ankle sprain a few games back, Russell Westbrook will sit out once again against the Mavs. This will be the third game the Thunder will be without their star point guard.

Here are some things to look out for in tonight’s game:

New Unis

The Mavericks just held an event to debut their new City Edition jerseys. The jury might still be out on how boring the fanbase finds them.

I will say personally I like them more than last seasons. And I don’t think they’re the worst in the league, so that’s a plus. But jersey experts may think otherwise...

Either way, they’ll be used throughout the season. Starting with tonight’s game.

Bench consistency?

In the first several games this season it seemed like outside Luka Doncic, the bench unit of J.J. Barea, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell were the only ones consistently being productive. But as of late they’ve been pretty inconsistent. Kleber in particular.

If the Mavs have any hope or stealing some wins, they need the bench core of Barea, Kleber, Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith to be clicking on all cylinders. Rick Carlisle spent a brief desperate moment turning to Salah Mejri to help down low recently, if that speaks to the necessity of Kleber and Powell being impactful.

The First Noel, Revenge Game

This will be Nerlens Noel’s first game facing the Dallas Mavericks since his short, dramatic, puzzling stint in a Mavs uniform. His journey in Dallas has been well dissected, and while that ship has sailed, it’ll be fascinating to see what he looks like against the Mavs.

He still remains an intriguing young player, albeit maybe not a max level star. Per-36 minutes this season, Noel is averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds and 3.5 blocks — though he’s only actually playing 14 minutes per game. He did have one breakout game this season as a starter, putting up 20 points, 15 rebounds, four steals and a block against the Phoenix Suns. So that breakout potential is still under the surface maybe.

How to Watch

Tip off is set for 8 CT, and can be watched on FSSW, the Fox Sports Go app, and NBA League Pass.