Nov 6, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis (11) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

OKC Thunder (48-17) vs. Dallas Mavericks (39-27) Preview

The Thunder have looked like a different team in their last two games, wins over Houston and the Lakers, than they did the few weeks prior.

Worry was beginning to set in with the Thunder as their defense looked very shaky and the team was barely .500 since the All-Star Break.

The Thunder will host the Dallas Mavericks today, a team they beat with ease 107-93 back on Nov. 6.

Dallas comes in with a 39-27 record on the year. Dirk Nowitzki has been especially good this year and is leading the team averaging 21.5 points per game. Newly added Monta Ellis has also been a good fit for the Mavs, who are battling for one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The last two games have been promising for the Thunder, but if they revert back to the way they were playing defensively before, Dallas will be a team that can make them pay. The Mavericks are one of the top shooting teams in the league and will move the ball well to find open shooters.

Defensively is where the Mavericks may be in trouble matching up with the Thunder.

Russell Westbrook, who is averaging over 27 points per game over his last four, should be able to impose his will today, too. Jose Calderon will have a tough time staying in front of him and the second line of defense for Dallas may not be ready for Westbrook’s speed either.

Scoring won’t be an issue for the Thunder at home today. It’s going to come down to bringing the effort and intensity defensively to slow down Dallas and create transition opportunities for themselves.

The game will tip at 6 p.m. CST.

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