The Mavericks are set to host the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second time in nine days, except this time it should be for real. Nine days ago Thunder thumped the Mavs in a game Rick Carlisle chose to hold out all five of his starters. The other time the Mavs and Thunder went at it this season, Oklahoma City won a nail-biter, 117-114 on November 22nd. Can the Mavs win their third straight and are they still capable of playing 48 minutes of basketball at the AAC?
What has Oklahoma City done lately?
The Thunder ride into the AAC having won their last six games and are 9-2 in 2016. The hot streak may not be as scary as it seems when you actually take a closer look at it. The Thunder have beat only two teams in their six game run with winning records, Miami at home and the JV Mavs at home. However, they are coming off a 109-95 win against Charlotte in which Kevin Durant led the charge with 26 points and Russell Westbrook nearly notched yet another triple-double with 16 points, 15 assists, and 8 rebounds.
What team stat might determine the game?
It has to be turnovers. In a game in which the status of Dirk Nowitzki is in question (Carlisle said he will be listed as questionable), the Mavs cannot afford to be careless with the basketball. A Thunder offense led by Durant and Westbrook is capable to score any given possession and turnovers could lead to easy transition buckets that not only hurt Dallas on the scoreboard, but also could lose the momentum.
What Mavericks player might be due for a big game?
The easy choice here would be Chandler Parsons, given his recent run of success and the possible absence of Dirk. However, Wesley Matthews has shown up at different times in recent games (first half vs. Boston, fourth quarter and OT vs. Minnesota) and could be poised for a good complete game on both ends. Offensively, he could get his 3-point shot going and do some damage in the post based on matchups, but defensively he could draw the assignment of Russell Westbrook and/or Kevin Durant at different times and his effectiveness there will be key in whether or not the Mavs finish the home stand a perfect 3-0 or drop to 2-1.
How to watch
7:30 p.m. Central on Fox Sports Southwest, or on NBA League Pass via your streaming device of choice.