The NBA West Championship matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the homestanding Dallas Mavericks (57-25) gets underway tonight.
The Mavericks finished second in the Southwest Division but cruised past the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers in the quarterfinals The Mavericks are led by Dirk Nowitzki, playmaker Jason Kidd and a solid corps of defenders who give up no easy points.
The Mavericks average 100.2 points per game, 11th in the league, 41.4 rebounds per game, 14th in the league and 96 points per game or 10th in the league. Against the Lakers, the Mavericks were firing on all cylinders and once in the lead, never looked back.
At 55-27, the Thunder topped the Northwest Division. In the quarterfinals they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 105-90 on Sunday. Oklahoma is led by all-world small forward Kevin Durant who averaged 27.7 points per game in the regular season Durant poured in 39 points on Sunday to set up this matchup.
The Thunder have a statistical edge over Dallas. Offensively they score 104.8 points per game, 5th best in the league, pull down 42.8 rebounds per game, 8th in the league and allow 101 points per game, 18th in the league. The defensive shortcomings give Dallas reason to expect to win. The Thunder are far less experienced at this level of the playoffs than are the Mavericks.
Dallas is a heavy favorite tonight. The Mavericks average more than 30 years of age while the top four scorers for the Thunder are 23 years of age or younger. This series is about the Dallas defense trying to contain the Oklahoma City offense.
These teams will meet in Dallas again on Thursday before moving to Oklahoma City on Saturday for game three of the best-of-seven playoff series. All three games are scheduled for 9:00PM ET.
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