Tonight, the homecoming Oklahoma City Thunder looks to extend its winning ways opposite the offensively challenged Dallas Mavericks.
Following fourteen days of exhaustive cross-country travel, the Oklahoma City Thunder return to Chesapeake Energy Arena this evening after splitting six consecutive road contests.
OKC has won two straight, with Wednesday’s 114-105 triumph marking the team's third victory of the season vs. New Orleans. Curiously, the Thunder held a commanding 18-point advantage before allowing New Orleans to chip away late until the game was almost too close for comfort.
In the end, though, Russell Westbrook finished with his 23rd triple-double of the year to place his Thunder in positive stead.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks enjoyed a brief reprieve from their pronounced struggles by upending New York 103-95 on Jan. 25. Overall, Dallas has collected five wins in its last seven outings.
As the Mavericks have enjoyed an uptick in production, both Deron Williams (ankle) and Dirk Nowitzki (rest) are unlikely to suit up tonight vs. OKC. The seasoned 38-year-old Nowitzki scored 19 points in 24 minutes of play against the free-falling Knicks.
Minus the services of former All-Stars Williams and Nowitzki, Dallas will rely upon Harrison Barnes and an unheralded grouping of young talent in an attempt to derail Oklahoma City’s growing momentum from “The Peake.”
- OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (27-19 #7 W.C.) vs. DALLAS MAVERICKS (16-29 #13 W.C.)
- Time: 8 PM ET
- Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- TV: TNT
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER KEYS TO VICTORY
- Avoid back-to-back tail-end letdown
- Do not play into Dallas’ ultra-slow pace
- Continue strong bench play (Kanter, Abrines, etc.)
- Westbrook plays under control
- Consistently dominate the league’s worst rebounding team in the paint
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Oklahoma City enters tonight’s nationally-televised Western Conference showcase with glaring statistical advantages over Dallas.
It behooves OKC to maneuver a +7.4 rpg, +9.4 ppg, and +7.28 pace margin against the short-handed Mavericks into a favorable scenario.
This can be best accomplished if Westbrook plays within himself. As goes Westbrook, so do the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Impressively, Dallas is amid a two-game winning streak after discarding of New York and the Los Angeles Lakers. Although, as earlier stated, Rick Carlisle’s men will be hard-pressed to prevail tonight bereft of key contributors.
For the hard-campaigning Mavs to find success, a combination of misfortunate events will need to conspire against OKC in the teams’ inaugural meeting of the season.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS/INJURY REPORTS
The Oklahoma City Thunder have no injuries to report. Dallas is reported to be without Deron Williams (toe), Dirk Nowitki (rest), and Wesley Matthews (hip) according to Mavs.com
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
- Point Guard: Russell Westbrook
- Shooting Guard: Victor Oladipo
- Small Forward: Anthony Roberson
- Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis
- Center: Steven Adams
- Point Guard: Devin Harris/Seth Curry/Williams
- Shooting Guard: Seth Curry/Justin Anderson
- Small Forward: Harrison Barnes
- Power Forward: Dorian Finney-Smith
- Center: Andrew Bogut/Dwight Powell
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER -8
Both the Vegas books and our partners at numberFire see the Oklahoma City Thunder as runaway favorites vs. the injury depleted Dallas Mavericks.
Tonight’s key matchup will pit Russell Westbrook against Russell Westbrook. As Dallas can offer little in the way of resistance against the superstar guard, it will be contingent upon Westbrook to provide a reliable performance tonight vs. Dallas.
The Thunder sport a 15-6 home record. Meanwhile, Dallas is 6-17 on the road. The Oklahoma City Thunder are 2-6 this season in back-to-back contests.