Dallas Mavericks: Two keys to victory over OKC Thunder
By Kohl Rast
The Dallas Mavericks are set to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in a true home-road back to back starting tonight. What do the Mavs need to do to win this one at home over the favored Thunder.
Dallas is in for a tough battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder over the next two nights. When the Dallas Mavericks took on OKC earlier this season, it was the start of a 15 game run in which the Mavs won 12 games. Now, Dallas has lost 7 of their last 8, the same position they were in last time the two teams played.
Dallas could use a spark right about now. Despite Luka Doncic playing at an incredible level for the last few weeks, the Mavs have been struggling to get a win. Since the end of their win streak, the Mavs have lost only one game by double-digits, a 10-point loss to the Phoenix Suns. The other losses were by 7, 8, 4, 4, 3 and 2. Those are some close games.
Here are two things that will help the Mavs get back on track.
Pass the Ball
Dallas has never been a high assist team and they have never really had players that average a lot of assists. Currently, J.J. Barea is leading the team with 5.6 assists per game and Luka is right behind him with 5 assists per game. That said, the Mavs are always better when they are moving the ball.
They will have that opportunity tonight against the Thunder, as OKC allows close to 24 assists per game so far this season. Their defense has been pretty solid so far this year, allowing the 6th fewest points against them in the league. Dallas was able to put up 111 points and 31 assists in the first meeting between the two teams, but that was without Russell Westbrook. This one will be very different.
Stop the Supporting Cast
Russell Westbrook is averaging 21 points per game and Paul George is averaging 26.3 this season. They are both very active scorers and, if they are feeling it, they can light it up quickly.
The real test for Dallas is going to be slowing down the rest of the team. They can’t afford to let Steven Adams or Dennis Schroder or Jerami Grant kill them as well. If the supporting cast is kept out of the double-digit scoring range, the Mavs will have a great shot at grabbing a win tonight.
The Mavs and Thunder tip-off early tonight with a 6:00 central time start. Dallas will be without Wesley Matthews for the second game in a row and the Thunder will be missing Alex Abrines. Everyone else is currently active for tonight’s game.