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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks, 2010-2011 Game 32 Preview: The Rivalry Continues

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (21-10) vs. The Dallas Mavericks (23-5)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: The New Myriad, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, KTXA 21

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN 103.3 KESN-FM

Enemy Blog(s): Mavs Moneyball, That Two Man Game

Previous Meeting(s): Nov. 24

I know there's been a long, ongoing debate about whether the Thunder will ever get a rival team, and who that rival team should be. Personally, I'd love to see Dallas become one of our rivals. Not because I hate them, but because every time these two teams meet, it's an exciting and action packed encounter that comes down to the wire.

The last time we saw the Mavericks, the Thunder looked to be on their way to a sure victory when they endured a colossal fourth quarter collapse. The Mavericks knew the mismatches to exploit, and they executed it in true fashion.

Given that this and our previous games were in Oklahoma City, this may be our last chance to beat the powerhouse Mavericks before they smash us at home. The Mavericks will be without their coach, Rick Carlisle, due to a arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Generally, teams don't collapse without their coach, but the Nuggets did so in the playoffs last year, so anything is possible.

I'd predict a close game that the Mavericks will win in the end. If the Thunder are to win, the big three will all have to score around their averages, and we'll need two or three role players to step up and play out of their shoes. If that can happen and the Thunder can find a way to contain Dirk late in the game, the Thunder could run away with a win. But with the way the Mavericks have played this season, I just don't see it.

Prediction: Dallas 102, Oklahoma City 99.