Skip to content

PBT Playoff Preview: Thunder vs. Mavericks

Apr 27, 2012, 2:20 AM EDT

Kevin Durant AP

Season Records:

Oklahoma City (47-19, 2 seed) vs. Dallas (38-28, 7 seed)

Season Series:

OKC 3-1

Offense/Defense Rankings (points per 100 possessions):

Offense: OKC 107.2 (2nd in NBA) vs. DAL 101.1 (20th in NBA)

Defense: OKC 100 (9th in NBA) vs. DAL 98.6 (8th in NBA)

Three Key Thunder:

Kevin Durant: Durant just locked up his 3rd consecutive scoring title, and he did it with a ludicrously high true shooting percentage of 61%. Durant can take the ball to the rim, he can catch and shoot, he can knock down contested jumpers, he can do it all. Basically, if it involves putting a basketball in a hoop, Kevin Durant is really good at it. Durant will likely finish 2nd to LeBron James in MVP voting, but he’s got a great chance to make up for it by winning a championship before LeBron does.

Russell Westbrook: For all the junk Westbrook takes about whether or not he’s a true point guard and how many shots he takes, the Thunder run their offense through the ultra-talented Westbrook, and it’s been working for them, to say the least. When Westbrook can get the Thunder out in the open floor, they become completely unstoppable, and he’s getting better and better at picking his spots and setting up his teammates in half-court situations. The Thunder offense will stagnate when Westbrook tries to take contested jumpers early in the shot clock that he shouldn’t be taking, but there’s no denying that the UCLA product is a true superstar and a main reason the Thunder have been so successful.

James Harden: Harden makes bad basketball plays about as often as he shaves his beard. Harden isn’t the most athletic star in the league, and he took a bit of time to develop, but he’s become a true star and a lock for the 6th Man of the Year Award. Harden has true 3-point range, can slither between defenders and get to the rim, and is a fantastic playmaker to boot. It’s almost unfair that the Thunder have the luxury of bringing him off the bench, because he can pick apart a defense as well as almost any player in the league, starter or non-starter.

Three Key Mavericks:

Dirk Nowitzki: The reigning Finals MVP. What more do I need to say? Dirk finally got the monkey off his back by winning it all last season, but he followed it up with a bit of a down year statistically, as his points per game went down and his FG% was as low as it’s been since his rookie season. Still, Nowitzki can take over a game at any time with his unblockable fadeaways, and the Thunder won’t sleep on him after what he did to them in last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Jason Terry: Terry is a player who can simply light up the scoreboard and take over a game whenever he feels like it. Terry has range out to the parking lot, doesn’t seem to care whether there’s a hand in his face or not, and lives for clutch situations — it takes some serious stones to get a tattoo of the NBA Finals trophy before the Finals begin, and Terry backed it up last season. The Mavericks are coming into this series as underdogs, but I get the feeling that’s how Terry likes it.

Shawn Marion: Marion isn’t the two-way force he was in Phoenix, but he’s still capable of doing a ton of things on offense and guarding almost any player on the court. Against the Thunder, he’ll have the unenviable task of trying to use his length to limit the damage Kevin Durant will do — if he can’t find a way to slow down the Thunder’s offensive attack, it could be a very short series for the defending champs.

Outlook:

Normally, it’s never wise to bet against the defending champs until they’re actually beaten, but Mark Cuban changed the game a little bit when he decided to let Tyson Chandler walk in free agency in the hope of landing Dwight Howard or Deron Williams this off-season. The Mavericks have a lot of experience, and were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the Thunder in last year’s Western Conference Finals last season, but a more experienced and confident Thunder team should be able to roll through this year’s Mavericks squad without too much trouble.

Prediction:

Thunder in 6.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Heat willing to give away Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT

    Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen AP

    Miami also reportedly talking Shabazz Napier trade

  2. Report: Manu Ginobili getting two-year, $5.7 million contract from Spurs

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Sounds as if San Antonio will use room exception on Ginobili, which helps the cause for re-signing Tim Duncan

  3. Warriors could save $48 million with David Lee-Gerald Wallace trade

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:54 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Even without stretching Wallace, that projects to be about $24 million in savings

  4. Report: Charlie Villanueva gets another minimum contract with Mavericks

    Jul 7, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Villanueva will back up Dirk Nowitzki as floor-spreading power forward

  5. Report: Clippers signing Wesley Johnson to minimum contract

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:46 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Clippers having a nice offseason – minus that one move that defines their offseason

  6. Report: Alan Anderson signs one-year, $4 million deal with Washington Wizards

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks - Game Five Getty Images

    The one-year deal keeps their cap space alive next summer to chase Kevin Durant.

  7. Jason Smith reaches one-year deal with Orlando Magic

    Jul 7, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    New York Knicks V Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    The Knicks and Magic essentially swap reserve centers.

  8. J.J. Redick: Clippers deserve “F” for free agency after losing DeAndre Jordan

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Five Getty Images

    “Listen, we had one priority this summer, and that was to re-sign DJ, and we missed out on that.” — J.J. Redick on the Clippers summer.

  9. PBT Podcast: Free agency’s winners and losers

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge LaMarcus Aldridge

    The Lakers were not free agency losers like some think.

  10. Report: Boston Celtics agree to trade for David Lee for Gerald Wallace

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:06 PM EDT

    davidlee Getty Images

    Look for the Warriors to waive Wallace using the stretch provision.

  11. Lakers anticipate signing D’Angelo Russell in time for Summer League debut vs. Timberwolves

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Draftees Shoot Los Angeles Lakers Draftees Shoot

    Julius Randle, L.A.’s first round pick last year, missed the Summer League opener due to a contract issue.

  12. Lou Williams ‘disappointed’ Raptors didn’t want him back

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The reigning Sixth Man of the Year signed a free agent deal with the Lakers.

  13. Dwyane Wade cites his scoring average when asked how long he’ll continue to play: ‘I think I’ll stay around a while’

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    wade Getty Images

    Wade was the third leading scorer in the East last season, but missed 20 games due to a combination rest and injury.

  14. Mark Cuban fined $25K for commenting on free agents DeAndre Jordan, Wes Matthews

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:31 AM EDT

    Squawk Box - Season 20 Getty Images

    Teams aren’t allowed to discuss deals during the moratorium period, which is still going on.

  15. Report: Kevin Garnett to re-sign with Timberwolves

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT

    Kevin Garnett AP

    KG will be back for a record 21st NBA season.

  16. Report: Cavaliers ‘have not abandoned’ pursuit of J.R. Smith

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    Cleveland just added Mo Williams, but Smith (and Matthew Dellavedova) will likely be back.

  17. Jazz GM says he’ll have news for fans soon regarding contract issue with Trey Lyles

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    Trey Lyles Trey Lyles

    The 12th overall pick hasn’t practiced with the Jazz, and remains unsigned. But the GM says “No worries.”

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (6072)
  2. D. Jordan (4161)
  3. W. Matthews (4113)
  4. R. Rondo (3623)
  5. D. Wade (3539)
  1. R. Hibbert (3510)
  2. D. West (3463)
  3. K. Bryant (3344)
  4. J. Lin (3174)
  5. R. Lopez (3151)