The Dallas Mavericks (29-46) would be last in the Western Conference if it weren’t for the sad Suns. The Oklahoma City Thunder (44-32) are in eighth place and fighting to ensure they stay in that spot. The last time the two teams faced each other was on December 30, when the Mavs had a vastly different roster, and Luka and Dennis Smith Jr. (seems like forever ago!) put on an impressive performance to beat the Thunder, 105-103.
On paper, this game seems like too easy of an analysis. The Mavs are bad and might even be tanking, the Thunder are good and have every reason to want to win. Here’s what to watch for:
No Luka, big problems?
Luka will be out tonight against the Thunder, battling what the team is calling a “right knee contusion.” One of those injuries I suspect he might play through if needed for playoff positioning, but in these last few games, why risk it? Luka torched the Thunder the last time the two teams played, but the landscape is vastly different now than it was a couple months ago.
Doncic has been the key part of the Mavericks’ offense when he plays, and without him...I don’t know, Devin Harris will probably play all 48 minutes because he is eternal? Just kidding, this probably means we’ll see a lot of Justin Jackson and Ryan Broekhoff. I’m sure the Thunder will be cool with that.
Dirk’s final farewell to OKC?
With this being Dirk’s potential final game in Oklahoma City (though again, reminder, he has not officially said he’s retiring!) it’s always fun to see what the opposing team/fans come up with to honor the Big German.
The Thunder are a rather fun team
Paul George and Russell Westbrook have both been pretty amazing this season. Though Russell Westbrook had an off-shooting night the last time the two teams met, he’s been more Russell Westbrook-y as of late last time the Mavericks and Thunder met, and there’s been some discussion that Paul George is even better, and might be the key to this Thunder team doing anything in the playoffs. That 8th seed they currently sit in is deceptive considering the great players they have.
How to watch
The game tips off at 12:30 p.m. (note the early start). You can watch it on TXA 21 locally or NBA League Pass otherwise.