The Thunder and Mavericks have always been loosely linked to one another. In 2011, just as the Thunder looked ready to ascend to the elite of the NBA, the veteran Mavs gave them a reality check en route to a championship.
Since then, OKC has indeed taken that leap into the elite, while the Mavs have sort of hung around as the respectable team that you can never quite count out. You could even read a little further into it and draw parallels between the two in that the Mavericks lost in the Finals in 2006, and it took five years to get back and finally win it all. The Thunder hope it won't take quite as long, but they can relate to the fact that they, too, were so close before suddenly seeing another Western Conference power rise up to claim the throne.
In terms of head-to-head matchups, both teams always seem to play each other closely. I talked about all of this history, as well as the Dirk/KD parallels we all hope to be true, and even (ugh) JJ Barea with Josh Bowe of Mavs Moneyball. Josh is an editor there, and you can also follow him on Twitter at @Boweman55.
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