Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Two of the purest scorers in the game face off as the Dallas Mavericks host the Oklahoma City Thunder for game one of the Western Conference Finals. The Mavericks are 6-point favorites over the Thunder with an over/under total set at 197.
The Oklahoma City Thunder ran away with a game seven victory against Memphis in the last round as Kevin Durant atoned for the worst night of his career in game six with a 39-point effort. While the Thunder expended a ton of energy, playing 4 OT’s in total on top of the grueling seven games don’t expect fatigue to hinder this team. The Thunder are extremely young and well conditioned – only two players on the roster are older than 30. The other side of that coin is that they are an inexperienced bunch that could struggle on the road against the most veteran team in the league. While Durant and Westbrook will prove challenging for older players to guard, the Thunder could struggle equally in guarding Dirk Nowitzki, a task likely to be dealt to Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison in relief.
The Dallas Mavericks are probably one of the few teams who would benefit from a nine-day layoff after sweeping the defending champion Lakers in the previous round. Point guard Jason Kidd is 38 and probably figures to benefit most from the rest and rehab as he prepares to play opposite the versatile Russell Westbrook. It’s quite possible the Mavericks will shake up their defense to allow the aging Kidd to guard less of an offensive threat, like Thabo Sefolosha for example. The challenge of defending Durant is likely to go to gritty veteran Shawn Marion, whose basketball IQ is as sharp as his shooting stroke is bizarre. Mark Cuban’s Mavericks are a dangerous team knowing that this is likely the best opportunity they have to win a championship in the Dirk Nowitzki era.
In the battle of youth versus age, the outcome I can stand behind with the most certainty is difficulty in defending one another in the early going. While the Mavericks possess a strong interior defense anchored by Tyson Chandler and the Thunder arguably having the same with Kendrick Perkins, I think each team’s individual matchups will prove very challenging for the other in the early going. I believe this game will be a lot less scoring than people might imagine. Therefore, I am going with the under tonight.