OKC Thunder facing a must win game against Luka-Less Mavs

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder head into Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks feeling pretty good. Over the last ten games, the Thunder are 6-4 which has pushed them to just a game and a half back of an NBA play-in tournament spot. With a 12-9 record at home this season, the OKC Thunder welcome the Mavericks to the Paycom Center for an early evening contest.

The Dallas Mavericks are on the second leg of a home/road back to back having just knocked off the New Orleans Pelicans in Dallas on Saturday night before heading up the road to take on the Thunder tonight in Oklahoma City. With such a quick turnaround, the Mavericks are without star guard Luka Doncic, who is having a historic season. Does his absence make this game a must-win for the Oklahoma City Thunder?

Facing off with the Dallas Mavericks without Luka Doncic in the Paycom Center could be considered a must-win for the OKC Thunder and their play-in hopes

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, a 2-2 week would be considered a week if we were discussing the upcoming workload on Monday. A home/road back-to-back against Boston and Orlando before a two-game pitstop at home against the Wizards and Mavericks as a precursor to a tough East Coast swing.

The Thunder have already clinched a .500 record on the week, having beaten the Boston Celtics behind a historic offensive performance and knocking off the Washington Wizards despite not having a center to match up with Kristaps Porzingis on paper.

Now, it is time for the OKC Thunder to get greedy. With the NBA play-in near, it is becoming a real possibility for the Thunder. Unlike in recent years, wins do not really hurt the organization that already has a blue-chip talent waiting in the wings in Chet Holmgren for next season. If they are good enough, at this point given the injuries and age of this roster to make the play-in tournament, that is an incredible sign for the future of this team.

However, the ping pong balls and NBA Draft Lottery are still appealing to fans, and the OKC Thunder given their injuries could still wind up down that route.

Given where the team sits right now though if they hope to be a play-in team you have to capitalize on playing at home against a Mavericks team that does not have Luka Doncic and has struggled without him on the floor.

After this game, the Thunder will spend ten days on the road playing the Heat, 76ers, Bulls, and Nets all on the road before returning home to take on the surging Indiana Pacers. Racking up this extra win, and outperforming this week’s projection, is how you keep pace in the standings with a tough stretch ahead.

In terms of the play-in hopes, with the arbitrary January 16th judgment day I have set for this team, Sunday becomes a must-win for the Oklahoma City Thunder, taking on a Mavericks squad without Luka Doncic.

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