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Time: 7:30 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
TV: NBATV, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Southwest
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN 103.3 KESN-FM
Previous Meeting: Dec. 29th (OKC Leads Season Series 1-0)
Analysis: The Mavericks have been awful this season. Awful. Their only win so far has come against the lowly Raptors, and they offered the Timberwolves their first win of the season. And it's not just that the Mavs are lacking defense. They're lacking offense too. In fact, the only game in which they scored over 100 was their 104-102 loss to the Thunder.
There is, above all, not too much to say about this game. There’s no point in talking about bases for hope—though these existed—because we just don’t know when this team will be what. There’s no point in getting too down about a loss against a young, talented team that shot 46% from three, except that the Mavs now have a PRETTY good chance of starting the season 1-5, after tomorrow’s game against the Thunder.
I have no doubt that the Mavs will eventually put it together. The only real question is when, and how much it will hurt their playoff position. The talent is there, but the team needs time to develop roles for its new players. And no, having a starting lineup that only consists of one reliable scorer isn't helping matters.
But that isn't really relevant today. Why? Because the Mavericks, despite all of their flaws, are still the Thunder's anti-thesis. Dirk Nowitzki is the guy Ibaka can't guard, because he's almost never blocked and can shoot the lights out. The Thunder still can't defend against a team that can rotate it around for quick threes or do excellent backdoor cuts. But, most of all, it's because the Thunder have been turnover machines lately, and Jason Kidd makes an absurd amount of steals against them.
Thus, I'm predicting the Thunder's first loss tonight. It's not easy to do, and I know the Mavericks aren't exactly on a roll. But at home against a fierce rival is an excellent place to prove themselves, especially when they show themselves to be a clearly superior team (barring KD's miracles).
Prediction: Dallas Mavericks 109, Oklahoma City Thunder 105