The Thunder's third pre-season game will be against their old rival, the Dallas Mavericks. The game will take place at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Thunder have traditionally held a pre-season home game in Tulsa prior to the NBA season.
The Dallas Half-Mavericks
The pre-season edition of the Mavericks are a far cry from what they'll be in the regular season. Four of the team's five starters will be out for one reason for another.
The biggest name, Dirk Nowitzki, didn't travel to Tulsa and is simply resting. The 37 year old Dirk is fresh off a Eurobasket appearance for Germany in September. Chandler Parsons, the Mavs' next biggest star, is rehabbing from off-season knee surgery. Parsons may miss all of the pre-season. Similarly, Wes Matthews is recovering from off-season surgery to his achilles. Matthews is a long shot to return for the regular season opener. Lastly, Deron Williams is day to day with a left calf strain. He won't play tonight.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, those four players are the team's most effective scorers. Thus, it's not surprising to see that Dallas was only able to score 86 and 82 points in their prior two pre-season games, respectively. Without the injured starters, the primary scorers become John Jenkins and Charlie Villanueva. Jenkins and Villanueva have led the offense admirably, shooting 42% and 46% respectively. But Dallas has had a couple of players that haven't carried their share of the offensive load. Of particular note are Justin Anderson and Jeremy Evans, who have gone 2-12 and 2-8 from the floor respectively.
The Mavericks also really struggle with rebounding. Dallas lost the rebounding battle to Denver by 10, and to Houston by 24. With Billy Donovan playing OKC's bigs closer to the rim, hopefully the Thunder will be able to take advantage.
Thunder dominate first two opponents
The Thunder have absolutely stampeded through the first two games of the pre-season. OKC kicked things off in Minneapolis, where the Thunder trounced the Timberwolves 122-99. Then, the Thunder returned home to smash European powerhouse Fenerbahce, 111-81. OKC's big stars, Durant and Westbrook, have appeared for most of the first and third quarters of both games. Potential rotation players will usually be in the lineup well into the fourth quarter. During Monday's practice, Coach Donovan stated that Durant and Westbrook will see even more time tonight against the Mavericks.
Scoring has been well distributed thus far. Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Kanter, McGary, and Waiters are all averaging over 10 points per game, and none of them are shooting below 50%. That will all change eventually, but it's extremely encouraging to see so many players scoring with ease. Of particular surprise is Mitch McGary, whom fell out of the rotation late last season. McGary has been able to move the ball well and has hit a corner three, so you can definitely see his game start to develop.
How OKC's lesser known players are doing
Unlike last season, the Thunder have been relatively injury-free thus far. Only three players have missed time. Steven Adams missed the Minnesota game with a sore back, but appears to have recovered. Nick Collison missed the Fenerbahce game to rest, but will be ready to go tonight. Lastly, Kyle Singler banged his knee in the opener against Minnesota. Singler missed the game against Fenerbahce with a bone bruise and is questionable for tonight. Given that the Thunder are still a relatively young team, I'd expect OKC to continue playing their major stars well into the pre-season.
The only players that could be considered struggling at this point are the Thunder's backup point guards, D.J. Augustin and Cameron Payne. Augustin has made smart decisions with the ball, but just can't hit shots off the dribble. In both games combined, Augustin is 3 of 12 from the floor and 0-3 from three. Cameron Payne, Augustin's potential replacement, is the exact opposite. Payne is making bad decisions with the ball, having committed 5 turnovers in 27 minutes of play. But Payne has shown real offensive potential, nailing difficult floaters and burying off-the-dribble threes.
There's been a bit of a surprise from Andre Roberson, who was able to amass six steals in just 43 minutes of action. That's an impossible pace to keep up, but it shows where this man's specialty truly lies.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Dallas Mavericks 90.
What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!
|2015 NBA Pre-Season Game 3|
|October 13th, 2015|
|Bank of Oklahoma Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|7 PM Central Daylight Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Southwest|
|Injury Report: Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri (Questionable), Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, JaVale McGee (Out)|
|Last Season's Matchups: Dec. 28 (L 112-107), Feb. 19 (W 104-89), Mar. 16 (L 119-115), Apr. 2 (L 135-131)|
|Raymond Felton||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|John Jenkins||SG||Andre Roberson|
|Justin Anderson||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Charlie Villanueva||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Samuel Dalembert||C||Steven Adams|