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Three things to watch for as the Mavericks host the Thunder

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Westbrook is a handful, but so is Doncic. It should be fun.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an old saying—no one knows how old—that states home is where the heart is. Well, in the case of the Dallas Mavericks, home is where the wins are. The home and away splits for the team are dramatic and disturbing. At the American Airlines Center, the Mavs are 14-3. On the road, the record flips to 2-15. Based on this, Dallas’ odds to notch one more win before the calendar flips to 2019 look good on Sunday when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town. That said, the second seeded Thunder aren’t a pushover either. Here’s what to watch for Sunday evening.

Defense wins championships

OK, it’s too early to start talking about championships for either team in this contest, but OKC is one of the best defensive teams in the league. In fact, they have the second best defensive rating of 103.2. In today’s NBA, that’s impressive.

What’s aiding their defensive prowess is, well, a lot. The Thunder force 17.3 turnovers per game at a rate of 15.1 percent. Beyond that, they limit opponents to a mere 29.8 3-point attempts per game. Again, that’s good considering the barrage teams are unleashing from deep. It plays into OKC’s opponents having an effective field goal percentage of .508, good for ninth best in the league.

So, Dallas’ offense will have it’s hands full trying to crack the Thunder’s pesky defense even with Paul George questionable and Andre Roberson still sidelined.

It’s Luka’s world

Coming off his best scoring performance of the season, Luka Doncic will look to put on a show in front of the home crowd. To do so, he’ll have to play at a high level, limiting turnovers, and without fear. Luckily, he is already fearless. What bodes will for Doncic against OKC’s defense is his ability to get to the free throw line. In his last seven games, he’s averaging 11 trips to the charity stripe. The Thunder don’t commit a lot of fouls so it will be a test.

Slowing Westbrook

Is it possible? He’s another walking triple double machine. During his career, Russell Westbrook is averaging 23.8 points against the Mavericks. It’s not his highest scoring average against an opponent but it’s up there.

There’s not much else to say. It’s Westbrook. He’s an All-Star and one of the best attacking guards in the league. Hopefully, Wesley Matthews will be available to help put some pressure on him throughout the night.

How to watch

FSSW or NBA League Pass, 6 pm Central