2012-2013 Pre-Season Game 7 Preview: Thunder Set the Pre-Season Sun in Wichita Versus the Mavs

Many things about the Mavs have changed, but Dirk remains. - Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

The I-35 Rivalry Stays on I-35, but it's a bit too far north. Still, who cares? A sold out crowd in Wichita will get a glimpse into one of the NBA's greatest showdowns.

2012/2013 NBA Preseason
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Dallas Mavericks (3-3)
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Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3)
October 24, 2012
INTRUST Bank Arena, Wichita, Kansas
7:00 PM CDT
Fox Sports Net Oklahoma Hi-Definition, WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blogs: Mavs Moneyball, The Two Man Game
Previous Meetings: None
Probable Starters
Darren Collison PG Russell Westbrook
Delonte West SG Thabo Sefolosha
Shawn Marion SF Kevin Durant
Jae Crowder PF Serge Ibaka
Elton Brand C Kendrick Perkins

The I-35 Rivalry Stays on I-35, but it's a bit too far north. Still, who cares? A sold out crowd in Wichita will get a glimpse into one of the NBA's greatest showdowns. And yes, as far as I can tell, Wichita sold out their tickets, just like Tulsa did last week. And the cheapest seat on StubHub is going for $65 right now. With no NBA teams in Kansas City or St. Louis since 1985, the region has gone totally crazy about Thunder basketball.

Since the game will be played in front of a "home" crowd tonight, you can expect the Thunder to play their stars. Scott Brooks announced that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will see the floor, though there's been no word on Nick Collison, who sat out yesterday's game in Chicago. The Mavericks will probably run a semi-regular rotation as well, but Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman will definitely not be playing tonight, as both are dealing with injury.

Still, this game does provide a good bit of intrigue. Wichita fans will get their first look into the new Dallas Mavericks, almost completely rebuilt just two years after their championship run. Of course, the everlasting cornerstone of Dirk Nowitzki is still there, as are Shawn Marion and a number of bench guys. But they do have a considerable influx of new talent. Chris Kaman, who won't be playing tonight, was a former teammate of Dirk's on the German National Team. There's also the intriguing back court combo of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo. These are both guys who made arguable cases for the starting lineup on their former teams, but were stuck behind a similarly talented player. Thus, both of them could be a a big success for the Mavs, but neither has completely proven themselves. Rounding out the list of new acquisitions are Dahntay Jones, a backup guard who should see spot minutes, and Elton Brand, a former All-Star big who has seen his career limited by injuries.

The Thunder have a bit of intrigue going on themselves. The Pre-Season has been host to several position battles. Eric Maynor has been battling Reggie Jackson for the backup point guard spot, with both of them providing different skillsets for the position. For now, Maynor looks like the choice, given his contrast to Westbrook and previous experience. Another position battle has been the one for backup center, with Cole Aldrich and Hasheem Thabeet working for minutes. The indication is towards Aldrich right now, but for every good game, he seems to have a so-so one. And Thabeet is a decent post defender and rebounder, but he has no refinement in his shot whatsoever. Lastly, the Thunder have a battle going on for the 15th roster spot. Liggins appears to have won the battle, appearing in all but one pre-season game, but there's still those out there who want to see Orton get the spot.

Anyway, it should be a good one, and we'll all get to watch it on Fox Sports Oklahoma. Who's ready for some Brian Davis?!

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 111, Dallas Mavericks 108

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