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Thunder vs Maverick Preview: OKC seeks end of year win against surging Dallas

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The Thunder hope to topple Dallas in the final game of the busiest month to ring in new year.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder end 2017 against the Dallas Mavericks in the last game of a 4-game home-stand at 6 p.m. cst. A victory tonight would give the Thunder their 13th win in the heaviest month of their season.

Only two teams have played more games than the Thunder have since opening night, the Celtics and the Mavericks. Thirty-seven games in 74 days works out to .5 day rest per day. In 2018, the Thunder will play 45 games in 101 days and get .545 day rest per day. That comes to 1.08 hours/day. Doesn’t sound like much, but over 101 days, that’s 4.545 days to rest or practice.

Those may seem a redundant waste of numbers until you look at the Thunder’s game note heading into tonight’s game. The Thunder list both Paul George (left knee soreness) and Andre Roberson (left patellar tendonitis) as out for their New Year’s Eve clash with the Mavericks.

However, an update at NBCSports Rotoworld reveals that George is 100% ready to go:

George will be back out there without any sort of minutes restrictions, so he's safe to fire up in all leagues and is a potential DFS option with a favorable matchup against the Mavericks. Andre Roberson (knee) will miss Sunday's game, so Alex Abrines might stick in the starting five, although Abrines isn't a great option with OKC's Big 3 healthy.

That is great news for Thunder fans since George missed the Thunder’s last game against the Milwaukee Bucks while nursing that knee and Roberson missed the ill-fated final play of that game as well.

While the PG news, the Thunder is still without their best perimeter defender and could find themselves hard pressed to hold down a Maverick team that relies on the long ball on almost 38% of their possessions. Dallas is currently enjoying a 3-game winning streak and blistered the New Orleans Pelicans with 22 makes on 39 attempts from distance in their last outing.

Rotoworld listed Alex Abrines as a possible starter at Roberson’s SG spot. However, Robes is the Thunder’s best all-around defender and after back-to-back games in which the Thunder gave up 38 points in the opening frame, Coach Billy Donovan may shy from starting a defensively challenged Abrines who has yet to find his shooting rhythm for one of his top defenders again.

In order to set a better defensive tone to this one, Donovan may give Josh Huestis his first start with the Thunder. Huestis, who started the second half against the Bucks, stepped in to fill the defensive and gave the Thunder 28 solid minutes off the bench.

With the return of Paul George however, Donovan may go a different way. Huestis has been solid playing at the forward position, but has struggled when asked to guard smaller quicker guards playing the two. Rather than asking Huestis to do something he has struggled at, Donovan may shift George and Carmelo Anthony from there regular 3 and 4 positions to the 2 and 3 and give Patrick Patterson his first start, or he may opt to keep as many players in their normal rotation as possible and give rookie Terrance Ferguson his first taste as a starter.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

No matter which way Donovan goes with his starters, Roberson will be missed. For the Thunder, the restful days of 2018 can’t get here soon enough.

From the crew here at WTLC, Thunder UP and Happy New Year Thunder Nation!!!

Poll

Who do you think will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Thunder
    (571 votes)
  • 25%
    Mavericks
    (199 votes)
770 votes total Vote Now