With a win last night against the New Orleans Pelicans. the Oklahoma City Thunder have locked up the two seed in the Western Conference. With just three more games to go, the playoffs are just around the corner.
At the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture, there is a close battle for the seven and eight seed between the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Phoenix Suns. Currently, the Mavericks hold the seven seed by just a half of game. In the Mavs’ final two games, they will face the Suns and Grizzlies. With a win tonight against the Suns and on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies, the Mavericks will clinch the seven seed, facing the Thunder in the first round.
Is this the match-up the Thunder want? Will it be easy to just sweep the series?
Numbers wise, the answer is no. Strangely enough, Oklahoma City is just 1-2 against the Mavericks this season.
But, don’t panic yet. And I’ll tell you why.
In their second match up, the Mavericks beat the Thunder 109-96. Yes, I know your next response: What??? And here’s the catch: Number zero was out for the Thunder in this one.
Yet again, just nine days later, with Westbrook, the Mavericks beat the Thunder once again in OT 128-119 despite 43 points from Kevin Durant. BUT, if you remember, Westbrook was on a minute restriction and could only play one minute in the overtime. Not to mention, Oklahoma City was without Perkins and Sefolosha, so the Thunder weren’t at full strength.
In Oklahoma City’s only win against the Mavs this season on November 6th, the Thunder held Dirk Nowitzki to just 16 points, and the thunder “big three” combined for 62 points with help off the bench from Jeremy Lamb, who added 13 points. And, yes, the Thunder started their healthy and normal starting five.
In so, when the Thunder are at full strength, I don’t see any concern of the Mavericks having a chance in this potential series.
Here are the match-ups if the Thunder were to draw the Mavericks:
Russell Westbrook vs. Jose Calderon
Thabo Sefolosha vs.Monta Ellis
Kevin Durant vs. Shawn Marion
Serge Ibaka vs.Dirk Nowitzki
Kendrick Perkins vs. Samuel Dalembert
Rebounds per game: Thunder(6th in league) at 44.9 a game. Mavericks(26th in the league) at 40.9 a game.
Points per game: Thunder(5th in the league) at 106.4 a game. Mavericks(8th in the league) at 104.9 a game.
Points allowed: Thunder(12th in the league) at 99.6 a game. Mavericks(19th in the league) at 102.5 a game.
So, Thunder fans, would you feel comfortable playing the Mavericks in the first round? And if so, how many games would the series be?