Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas entertains Kevin Durant and the
It's been an exhausting road for the Oklahoma City Thunder so far in the
postseason, getting past the Denver Nuggets in five before a riveting
seven-game series with the surprising Memphis Grizzlies.
The series went back and forth and, in the end, home-court
advantage was the difference as Kevin Durant and company took care of business
in Game 7 to book their place in the conference finals.
Dallas' road to this point was entirely different. The
Mavericks actually had a harder time in the opening round, needing six games to
overcome the pesky Portland Trail Blazers.
However the real shock came in the conference semi-finals,
where Dallas pulled off a stunning sweep of the two-time defending champion
Winning two in Los Angeles was testament enough to how
strong this Dallas Mavericks team is at the moment, but to actually get the sweep was
an amazing feat. The final score in Game 4? Dallas 122 Los Angeles 86.
Recent trends for Western Conference slugfest
If you've been backing the Mavericks for this entire
postseason, congratulations. You're rich. They are an amazing 9-0-1 ATS in 10
playoff games so far.
They'll need a great effort against the Thunder, which are
10-4-1 ATS in their previous 15 matchups on the road.
For Game 1 of what should be a highly entertaining series,
the Mavericks have been installed as 6-point favorites at most sportsbooks. The
total was at 193 at time of writing on the NBA odds board.
We should all know by now that both Oklahoma City and Dallas
know how to put points on the board.
However, the Thunder may have the edge considering they get
their scoring from a few different outlets, as opposed to the Mavericks who
mainly rely on the heroics of Dirk Nowitzki.
Of course, that's only true for Oklahoma City if Scott
Brooks can get some consistent production out of James Harden. The energetic
sixth man has shown glimpses of his explosive scoring ability, but also tends
to fade out at certain times as well.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain the backbone of
this young Thunder squad, but they have to try to get others (Harden
especially) involved if they want to avoid becoming too predictable in their
Dirk (and the rest)
For Dallas, everyone knows who the offense runs through.
Nowitzki has been his typically brilliant self throughout the postseason, and
continues to be almost impossible to guard for any opposing team.
The Mavericks clearly have the better defensive team as
well, allowing only 88.2 points per game so far in the playoffs. Rick Carlisle
has emphasized top-notch effort on that front and the results have been clear
to see. Just ask the Lakers.
I also think Dallas has the better bench, spearheaded by a
relentless scoring machine in Jason Terry. J.J. Barea has had a tremendous
postseason to boot, while Brendan Haywood and Peja Stojakovic have also
fulfilled their roles well.
With that said, I am going to go against John Ryan and his simulator, I see the Mavericks starting this series off
with a bang at American Airlines Center. The only thing I worry about is the
long layoff they've had after dismantling the Lakers, but ultimately I still think
they'll take care of business.
FREE Pick: Mavericks get the Game 1 victory and ATS
cover at home