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Oklahoma City Thunder (52-18) vs Dallas Mavericks (42-29) preview

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Current Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (52-18), Dallas Mavericks (42-29)

Last time they met: Dallas Mavericks (109) defeated Oklahoma City Thunder (86)

Pre-game Notes:

It has only been nine days since the last meeting of these two Western Conference sides, but it may as well be nine months. Since suffering a huge 23 point drubbing at the hands of the Mavericks the last time, the Oklahoma City Thunder have turned things around and will be looking for their fifth straight win. They will have to do it on the road as this game is played in Dallas where the Mavericks are 29-12 this season.

The Thunder seem to have righted the ship and easily took care of the Denver Nuggets. While this is the second night of a back to back, the Thunder shouldn’t be too fatigued, having shared the minutes throughout the team against the Nuggets. They will also have the added bonus of welcoming Russell Westbrook back into the lineup after he was rested on the front end of this back to back.

Dallas were unlucky to not be coming off a win, narrowly falling at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets in overtime and they will be keen to make amends and keep their noses in front in the race for the final playoff spot out West.

Key Matchups:

Kevin Durant vs Shawn Marion

Can Marion turn back the clock and provide the Mavericks with a defensive stopper for the night? It is a very tough ask as Durant is on fire. He received the Western Conference Player of the Month award again after averaging 40.5ppg last week. While he “only” had 27pts in the blowout over the Nuggets, KD is still the one to watch and will ultimately determine the outcome.

Russell Westbrook  vs Jose Calderon

Russ will be back in the lineup and  all will be the focus of a lot of attention. He will attempt to answer any questions about his health and his knee with a solid performance after sitting last night against the Nuggets. Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis will keep track of Westbrook, making him work hard on both ends of the floor and really putting the screws on him.

Serge Ibaka vs Dirk Nowtizki

Two very different power forwards but both extremely important to their team’s chances and the outcome of this game. Dirk will be very keen to bounce back after a sub-par outing and will try and take some of the offensive pressure off Monta Ellis, Vince Carter and others. Ibaka will relish having Westbrook back in the lineup and will not only want to provide offensive support, but also make it difficult for all the Mavericks in the lane and on the glass.

Prediction:

Danger game for sure and the Mavericks will remember how they defeating the Thunder just over a week ago. They are at home and will have the benefit of the crowd and will need every advantage they can get. I can’t see the Thunder dropping another game to the Mavs. They will welcome Russ back, use the balanced attack to keep Dallas guessing and riding the hot streak Durant is on – all the way to a win.Thunder 102, Mavericks 94.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Oklahoma City Thunder

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