Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder look to rebound in a big way as they host the Dallas Mavericks for game four on Tuesday night. The Thunder are 4-point favorites over the Mavericks with the over/under point total set at 196.
The Dallas Mavericks stormed out of the gate in game three and got back to their signature recipe for winning games in the regular season, Defense. Dirk Nowitzki shot a lackluster 7-21 for 18 points on the night but his teammates all chipped in, namely Shawn Marion who scored an efficient 18 points while shaking Kevin Durant out of his rhythm. Tyson Chandler delivered a huge effort on the glass with 15 rebounds but as a team the Mavericks were actually outrebounded 37-45 on the night. Despite the fast start, the Mavericks once again struggled to sustain the effort as they allowed the young Thunder to muscle back into the game in the fourth quarter.
The Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves in a familiar spot as they weathered a storm in game one only to force a close finish, then responded in game two with a win. The Thunder know that if they can’t respond here the series is all but over, but it’s clear that this is a young team that makes more than their fair share of mental errors down the stretch with Russell Westbrook being the most obvious culprit. The Thunder have to feel good about the fact that they still got to the foul line for 36 shots and converted at an 89% clip despite the losing effort in game three. For the most part OKC should feel good about their defense on Dirk as well but when push came to shove in the fourth quarter Dirk Nowitzki forced Nick Collison to look silly running in circles trying to guard him.
Game three was all about defense as the final score came up 20 points short of the closing total. I look for defense to play a vital role in this game once more as these teams are settling into their gameplans and not playing as hectic of styles as the opening two games produced.