The last time the Thunder played the Dallas Mavericks, I wasn't even blogging the team yet. Its been a really long time, December 13th, to be exact, as the Thunder lost by a score of 99-103. I honestly don't even remember watching this game, which is strange because I've only missed a few games this season, and I don't believe this was one of them.
Anyway, the Thunder head down to Dallas to go for a much needed win, after six consecutive losses. If they can get the win, it will also give them the confidence and oppertunity to quickly turn around a 6 game losing streak, with a potential 3 game winning streak. Reason being is they play the Grizzlies on Saturday night, and then return home to play the Mavs on Monday. So, one could make the argument, that if we beat them on the road Friday, we should win at home on Monday. Sandwiched in the middle, we should definitely beat a pesky Grizzlies team. Of course what should happen and what does happen, are often times, very different. One thing is for sure, the Thunder need a win, and this is a perfect chance for a huge confidence boost.
For the Mavericks, the motivation is simple, maintain or improve their position in the Western Conference standings. Currently they are nursing the final spot in the run for the playoffs, and if that's not motivation enough, playing the leagues 2nd worst team (record wise) should be. They are closely chased right now by the Phoenix Suns, and a loss to the Thunder will weigh heavily on this teams mind if they head down the stretch on the outside looking in.
The Thunder tonight need to focus on...well, what they always need to focus on, DEFENSE! They make the travel to Dallas having let opponents pass the century mark in seven straight games. Now, they face a team that averages a C-Note per game this season. If we want a chance to win, the Thunder defense will have to come to play. I look for the Thunder to perhaps make use of Thabo Sefolosha's ability to cover almost anyone on the court by having him cover one of the Mavs forwards (Howard?) instead of guards. Howard and Nowitzki are averaging a combined 33 points per game, and will need to be the focus of this team defensively. Jason Terry off the bench, is something to pay attention to as well. If the Mavs get themselves into any type of scoring rut early, look for him to come off the bench and add a quick spark.
Three games in four days is going to be a rough stretch for sure, but if they can get it started off right, tonight, with a win, perhaps that confidence can carry them to another win on the road against the Grizz, and then for the Mavericks again on Monday.
It'd be nice to see some Thunderfans in the crowd as well, since the game is so close.