OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 15 Preview: Mavericks at Thunder

Tipoff Time: 8:00PM EST

ESPN Preview

Great game tonight.

Key players:

Dirk Nowitzki – 25.8 PPG, 8.7RB

Jason Kidd – 9.3 APG

Key injuries – Shawn Marrion, TBD

A Maverick perspective

Here is what initially jumps out at me regarding the Mavs.

The Mavs are currently sitting at 9-4, which is nearly identical to the Thunder’s.  The big difference though is that the Thunder are currently tops in their division, while the Mavs are 3rd, behind the Spurs and Hornets.  Unless one or both of those teams collapse, it likely means that the Mavs are going to be grinding out wins nightly to keep pace with teams like the Jazz and Blazers.  It will make them realize that they have little room for error in the hyper-competitive West.

Here’s another thing worth mentioning.  Take a look at Dirk’s career stats.  It doesn’t get talked about much, but he has been remarkably consistent and resilient for a very long time (seldom misses more than 3-5 games per year).  He just dropped 42 and 12 on the Pistons last night to fuel the Mavs’ come from behind victory.  I imagine that guarding him is going to fall into the hands of Jeff Green and Serge Ibaka, but I am doubtful that either one will be successful stopping Dirk’s quirky high-post game.

Here is a third remarkable reality – Jason Kidd keeps humming along.  He no longer plays great defense, and he has never been a great scoring threat, but still, in less than three quarters of play, he is still handing out over nine assists per game.  Once again Westbrook gets to go up against one of the historically best PG’s in the NBA.

Keys to the game:

  • Limit Dirk’s game to his outside shot.  He can play inside and out, but at least if you keep him on the perimeter you keep him off the boards.
  • Westbrook needs to play at a slower pace.  Kidd is one of the last great PG’s at grabbing a rebound and racing full speed down the court for fast breaks.  Westbrook too can rebound and is fast, but here is the difference.  Westbrook is not playing optimally when he is playing at that speed.  Against the Wolves, he got into trouble any time the game sped up too much, and he ended up with six turnovers.  The Thunder are a solid half-court team (well, except in the 4th quarter) and Westbrook needs to play at a more even pace.
  • Keep that assist total high.  I’d love to see another 25+ assist game. It has the dual effect of being more offensively efficient, so your players spend less energy to get good shots, and it is more trying for the defensive team, since they have to move and react more than if it is just an isolation-oriented offense.

Apropos of nothing, Dirk and his lovely locks (since shaved) remind me of Abo Dude.

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