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. Celtics owner: Rajon Rondo ‘super stubborn,’ harder than average to coach

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Wyc Grousbeck also says he wants Boston to keep point guard long term

  2. Hornets, in search of big man, sign Dallas Lauderdale and Brian Qvale

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT

    Texas-San Antonio v Ohio State Getty Images

    Charlotte also adds Justin Cobbs, who went undrafted out of Cal

  3. Lakers sign Wayne Ellington, who played best for Byron Scott

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers

    Ellington, who played for Scott with Cavaliers, received partially guaranteed contract

  4. Blake Griffin understands that Los Angeles is still a Lakers’ town

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin AP

    It’s not going to change anytime soon, either.

  5. Report: Jazz to work out John Stockton’s son

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:44 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Championship - Brigham Young v Gonzaga Getty Images

    David Stockton, an undrafted free agent out of Gonzaga, also worked out for Thunder

  6. Bruce Bowen says blame for James Harden’s defense falls on McHale, Rockets

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    The Rockets’ defensive system is not the problem with James Harden.

  7. Jazz sign Dahntay Jones

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:41 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Jones previously played for the Grizzlies, Kings, Nuggets, Pacers, Mavericks and Hawks

  8. Report: Darko Milicic leaving basketball, taking up kickboxing

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Minnesota Timberwovles 2010 NBA Europe LIve Minnesota Timberwovles 2010 NBA Europe LIve

    Former Pistons No. 2 draft pick putting some distance between himself and basketball

  9. Caldwell Jones dies at 64

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    Portland Trailblazers vs. San Antonio Spurs Portland Trailblazers vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Jones – who played for the 76ers, Rockets, Bulls (during Michael Jordan’s rookie season), Trail Blazers and Spurs – helped shape Tim Duncan’s career

  10. Tyson Chandler: ‘I’m going to make’ Mavericks defend

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Tyson Chandler, Ricky Rubio Tyson Chandler, Ricky Rubio

    Chandler: ‘We are going to be a great defensive team’

  11. NBA to review domestic violence policies in wake of NFL’s ugliness. It shouldn’t have taken that.

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    There were multiple NBA players arrested on domestic abuse charges last year. The spotlight on those cases will be different now.

  12. Nuggets sign forward Marcus Williams

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    Arizona Wildcats v North Carolina Tar Heels Getty Images

    This is the Marcus Williams who played at Arizona, not Connecticut

  13. Cavaliers lift ban on fan who ran onto court with LeBron James shirt

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    A Cleveland Cavaliers fan interrupts play during their NBA basketball game against Miami Heat in Cleveland Reuters

    James Blair can watch LeBron in person in Cleveland again

  14. Blake Griffin said he knew Donald Sterling was racist, wasn’t really surprised by tape

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin GQ

    “The first thing I ever Googled about the man, the first thing that popped up was “racist.” So I was aware. I hate to say this, and it might sound ignorant, but I wasn’t surprised that all this came up.”—Blake Griffin on Donald Sterling

  15. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Chicago Bulls

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards - NBA Global Games Rio 2013 Getty Images

    A healthy D Rose could have the Bulls contending for a title.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. E. Bledsoe (2704)
  2. R. Rondo (2512)
  3. K. Bryant (2118)
  4. L. James (2055)
  5. N. Young (1724)
  1. R. Allen (1705)
  2. D. Rose (1646)
  3. J. Hickson (1590)
  4. B. Jennings (1584)
  5. R. Rubio (1498)