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Thunder vs Mavericks preview: Oklahoma City takes on struggling Dallas in key match-up

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The Thunder will face off against an up and down Mavericks as they look to escape their 8th seeded troubles.

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off an ugly, yet meaningful win against the limping Chicago Bulls, the Oklahoma City Thunder will take their talents to Dallas for a match-up against the Mavericks.

The Dallas Mavericks began the season on a historic note.  They ran the league's best offense and were on pace to break the all time record in offensive rating.  However, following the mid-season acquisition of Rajon Rondo, the Mavs have been struggling on the offensive side of the ball.  Following the trade, Rondo took a knee to the face and Chandler Parsons suffered an injury that kept him out a few games.  Rajon also struggled to become acclimated in Rick Carlisle's system in the first few weeks.  In that time, Dallas dropped several spots in the West and are currently the 7th seed.  But after a blowout win over the Clippers on Friday, it seems as though the Mavs are healthy and ready to play.

The game should bring up some interesting matchups, especially Andre Roberson vs. Monta Ellis.  Ellis is one of the league's best attackers, it would not surprise me to see Scott Brooks assign Andre Roberson to guard him.  Ellis averages 19.1 points per game (leading his team) and his clearly their fire on offense.  If he is cold, odds are the offense will be dysfunctional.

Another matchup to watch is Steven Adams vs. Tyson Chandler.  Both centers are dominant rim protectors and fierce competitors.  Elbows will be thrown.  Fouls will be called.

Last but not least...Westbrook vs. Rondo.  Russell Westbrook has taken his role as the team's go to scorer more serious than anyone could have imagined.  He is leading the league in scoring and has 8 triple doubles on the season (he's had six since February 24).  Rajon Rondo is a solid defender, but by no means can he contain Westbrook.  Russ is lightning in a bottle.  Westbrook has averaged 28 points in his last five visits to Dallas.

Serge Ibaka is out tonight and is expected to need knee surgery. His timetable is unknown.  This will be Ibaka's third missed game in a row due to knee soreness.  Steven Adams and Enes Kanter will round out the front court.  Last game against Chicago, the Bruise Brothers grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and both had double-doubles, combining for 32 points and 29 rebounds.

If OKC can move the ball, run the floor, draw fouls, and get the ball in Westbrook's hands, winning in Dallas will be difficult but possible, and the Thunder can inch a little bit higher in the playoff chase.

2014-15 NBA Season Game 66
(won 2)

(won 1)
Monday, March 16th, 2015
American Airlines Center
7:30 PM CST
TV: FS Oklahoma, FSSW, League Pass Radio: 103.3 ESPN, WWLS 98.1 FM OKC
Injury Report: Serge Ibaka (out), Kevin Durant (out), Al Farouq-Aminu (DTD)
Past match-ups: 12/28 (L 112-107)  2/19 (W 104-89)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Rajon Rondo
Dion Waiters SG Monta Ellis
Andre Roberson SF Chandler Parsons
Enes Kanter PF Dirk Nowitzki
Steven Adams C Tyson Chandler

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