2012-2013 Game 67 Preview: Sweep the Mavericks, Say the Thunder!

To promote Multiple Sclorosis awareness, Russell Westbrook is riding an orange! YEAH!!!! - William Bennett Berry

The Thunder may have blown out the Mavericks the last time these two teams met, but don't expect that to happen again. Dirk is back.

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (49-17)
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The Dallas Mavericks (31-34)
March 16th, 2013
The American Airlines Arena, Dallas, Texas
6:30 PM CDT
Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Southwest
WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN Radio 103.3 FM
Enemy Blogs: Mavs Moneyball, The Two Man Game
Previous Meetings: Dec 27, Jan 18, Feb 4 (Thunder Lead Season Series 3-0)
Injury Report: Shawn Marion (Out)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Mike James
Thabo Sefolosha SG O.J. Mayo
Kevin Durant SF Jae Crowder
Serge Ibaka PF Dirk Nowitzki
Kendrick Perkins C Chris Kaman

The Thunder may have blown out the Mavericks the last time these two teams met, but don't expect that to happen again. Dirk is back.

Yeah, I know he's technically played against us before, but that was an injured Dirk, playing like a shell of himself. The offensive wunderkind was missing his signature turnaround jumpers left and right, probably hurting the team more than he helped. But he's charged out of the All-Star break, finally starting to shoot well again and bringing the Mavs within the cusp of the playoffs.

In the two serious games these teams have played against each other, the Thunder's clearest advantage has been in rebounding. The amount of offensive rebounds Ibaka has been able to get against the Mavs' totally unathletic core of bigs is pretty astonishing, and it allows the Thunder to head into the fourth quarter in control most of the time.

It's also pretty clear that O.J. Mayo just isn't an option against the Thunder. Most of his plays are isolation sets, and the Thunder do a pretty good job of locking him down at the top of the perimeter. Overall, he's shot 33% against us from the floor, compared to his normal 46%. Furthermore, he's averaging 4.7 Turnovers against the Thunder, compared to his usual 2.6.

On the flip side, the main advantage of the Mavericks is the sheer variety of offensive options they have. On three separate occasions, they were able to have Vince Carter, Darren Collison, and Shawn Marion all step up for 20+ point performances and carry the team through a certain portion of the game. Obviously, you also can't ignore the fact that Dirk Nowitzki has always caused trouble for the Thunder, because they have nobody that can close out on his mid-range shot. This should create problems of its' own.

In the end, this game is pretty much a push, I really doubt the Thunder can blow the Mavericks open, because they're playing like a playoff team and are generally only susceptible to well-balanced defensive squads. I could see the Thunder losing this one by more than single digits, simply because you factor in that they're on the road, the Mavs want revenge on Derek Fisher, and that the Mavs bench has the tools to take advantage of the defensive hole known as Fisher/Martin. Still, I expect it to be competitive, and if this is decided before the fourth quarter, than something went seriously wrong.

Also, as you might know, this week is multiple sclerosis week, which is designed to raise awareness for funding, research, and treatment of the disease. In support of MS week, we've "oranged out" our pre and post game images. If you're interested to learn more, check out the website of the National Multiple Sclerosis society.

Prediction: Dallas Mavericks 105, Oklahoma City Thunder 103 (OT)

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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