The Thunder Roll into Dallas
The NBA’s top team–the Oklahoma City Thunder–will go after their 32nd win of the season and sixth in a row today against the Dallas Mavericks, which are also coming into the contest on a hot streak, as winners of four straight.
OKC’s latest streak has been backed by strong performances form its stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant, as always, has continued to lead the way for the Thunder, but lately Westbrook has been the go to man, posting two of his highest scoring efforts in the last five games. Westbrook scored a season-high 36 points on Monday in a 102-90 win against the Suns and he dropped 32 in a 117-97 victory against the Nuggets on Wednesday.
“I come into the game confident, honestly, and I just come out and take the shots that’s given to me,” Westbrook said via ESPN.com.
Although the Mavericks are 17-23 on the year, they’ve seen vast improvement since of the return of their leader Dirk Nowitzki. He’s played limited minutes since coming back from injury, but has already sparked the Mavs, which are coming off a 105-100 win against Houston on Wednesday. He scored 19 points in that game and like his team, is starting to get back into the swing of things.
“I had some good looks,” Nowitzki said. “That 3 at the end of the third helped me get my rhythm. Sometimes all you need is to see the ball go through the hoop one time.”
The Thunder have gotten the better of the Mavs recently, winning the the last seven meetings, including four straight in last year’s postseason and one match-up earlier this season in Oklahoma City. The Mavericks have taken pride in their improved defense over the last week, holding opponents to fewer than 94 points per game, but they will face the biggest of challenges in the Thunder, which lead the NBA scoring 105.4 points per game.
“We’re going to have our hands full,” Dallas guard Darren Collison said. “The most important thing is that we’ve got to be tied in like we have been.”
The Mavericks will have to shut down the Thunder’s bevy of talented scorers without sending them to the foul line. Oklahoma City is also the best free throw shooting team in the league at 83.6 percent and Dallas is the second worst team at allowing opponent free throw attempts, yielding 26.1 per game.
The Mavs are certainly playing well, but they just don’t match up well against the Thunder and frankly, I don’t think any team can slow down the duo of Durant and Westrook at the moment. Look for the Thunder to remain top dog and extend their winning streak to six by covering -4.5 points on the road.