May 17, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) defends against Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) during the fourth quarter of game one of the western conference finals of the 2011 NBA playoffs at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Thunder 121-112. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Mavericks vs. Thunder Playoff Preview

It’s finally here: The NBA playoffs are set to tip off on Saturday with the Mavericks visiting the second seeded Thunder in a rematch of last seasons’ Western Conference Finals. The game tips off at 9:30 EST on ESPN, so be sure to tune in for what promises to be a spectacular series.

The Mavericks defensive prowess is no longer with the departure of their defensive anchor, Tyson Chandler, in the offseason. However, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry still remain, and they have enough offensive firepower to hang with anyone. In the four regular season meetings, the Thunder won three, however, those wins were by an average of a mere 5 points. Both of these teams are very familiar with each other and rest assured Oklahoma City will be looking to exact revenge for last seasons hotly contested series loss in five games.

Kevin Durant, fresh off his third scoring title in his young career, will lead the charge for the Thunder as Russell Westbrook may need some sideline point guard coaching from 5-time champion Derek Fisher. Without the unheralded backup point guard, Eric Maynor this season, the Thunder will find it tough to control the pace late in games due to inexperienced decision making floor leader Westbrook. Too often they are stymied by defense and settle for a contested three point shot from Russell at the top of the key. If Dallas can force this to occur more often than not, they will put themselves in a very good position to surprise everyone and take the series.

Game one will set the tone for the series and the Mavericks want to get off on the right foot by stealing home court advantage from under the Thunder’s nose.

Will Jason Kidd’s experience at the point overwhelm Westbrook? Will we see the superstar MVP of the finals from a year prior in Dirk this series? Will Vince Carter contribute off the bench? This has the makings of an exciting, fast paced series – and one the Thunder are already fearing.

Prediction: Thunder in 6.

Tags: DallasMavericks DirkNowitzki KevinDurant OklahomaCityThunder

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