OKC Thunder: 3 keys to defeating Mavericks

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OKC Thunder

Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77) dribbles past OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) : Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A quick trip to Texas for the OKC Thunder will find them playing in a back-to-back set that will finish off the first half of the 2020-21 schedule.

They begin in Dallas playing the Mavericks for the first time this season and complete the trip in San Antonio who they’ll play for the third and final time this season.

OKC has won three of their last five games but got soundly beaten by the Nuggets in their most recent contest this past Saturday. For details on the loss check out the post-game takeaways.

The Mavericks had an unscheduled eight days off between their February 14th match and a return on the 22nd. Severe winter storms in Texas caused the postponement of two matches. At the time, the Mavs were on a 4-1 hot streak so the time off could’ve halted their momentum.

During this hiatus, coach Rick Carlisle used the opportunity to gain valuable practice time to review the film and work on specific trouble areas.

With that let’s dive into three keys for the match between the OKC Thunder and Mavericks.

OKC Thunder key number 1: Mavericks defense is better than season rating

Last season the Dallas Mavericks possessed one of the most prolific offenses in NBA history. They finished ranking first overall (115.9) scoring an average of 117 points per game.

To start the 2020-21 campaign the club wasn’t producing at the same level. Through the end of January, Dallas ranked 21st scoring 108.7 points per game, and possessed the 19th ranked offense. February witnessed the return of the Mavs offensive brilliance as they improved to 117.5 points per game and climbed to the fifth rated offense (118.5) in the month.

However, the defense was still abysmally bad, ranking 26th (117.3) this season as well as in the month of February (117.0). There are signs of improvement however that came about as a result of the eight-day layoff.

That time Carlisle and his crew spent isolating on the Mavericks defensive issues is paying immediate dividends albeit in a small five-game sample size. Still, during this segment, the Mavericks possess the fifth-ranked defense (107.5). And, the quintet of opponents faced during that period includes the top-ranked Nets offense.

With this renewed focus by the Mavericks, it means the Thunder gameplan needs to be extremely focused. In terms of individual matchups, and that leads into TI’s second key…

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