It’s a battle of Western Conference teams off to slower starts than they’d like down in the Sooner State. The Dallas Mavericks are on the road for the second game of a back to back situation as they face the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday night. Dallas was at home Saturday night as they faced the Cavaliers in an inter-conference tilt. Oklahoma City snapped a four game skid as they turned back the Clippers 120-111 at home Friday night. The Thunder holds a 79-71 advantage in the all-time regular season series between the teams and have won six of the last seven meetings, including two of three last year.
Dallas Mavericks Struggling Early On
Dallas was in action Saturday night at home against Cleveland, putting them in a back to back situation here. The Mavericks had struggled coming out of the gate, winning just two of their first 12 games entering Saturday night. Dallas entered Saturday 2-8 in their last 10 games and occupied the basement of the Western Conference. The Mavericks were seven games behind the Rockets and Warriors for the top spot in the West and were seven games back of Houston in the Southwest Division. Dallas stood four games behind the Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the West. The Mavericks were 1-5 on the road and 1-8 against Western Conference foes this season.
The Mavericks have struggled on the offensive end of the floor this season. Dallas is 27h in the league in scoring with 99.2 points per game. The Mavericks are 25th in rebounding with 41 boards per contest and are 22nd in the league with 20.7 assists per game. Dallas is below average on the defensive end, ranking 19th in scoring defense with 107.1 points per game. Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks with 18.4 points plus 6.2 rebounds per game. Dennis Smith Jr. (14.2 points, 4.9 assists) is the point guard of the future: he missed two games with a knee effusion. Yogi Ferrell (10.6 points) and J.J. Barea (12.3 points, 4.8 assists) are contributing in the backcourt. Gian Clavell, Nerlens Noel, Wesley Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith and the ageless Dirk Nowitzki are all cogs in the Mavericks’ rotation. Dallas is 29th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 42.4 percent as a team. The Mavericks are tied for 4th in threes with 12 per game but are tied for 9th in three point shooting by hitting 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Oklahoma City Thunder Trying to Climb Standings in Western Conference
It’s been a slow start for Oklahoma City as many fans weren’t expecting a 5-7 record after 12 games with the trio of stars the team has. The Thunder did snap their four game skid as they beat the reeling Clippers at home Friday night. Oklahoma City outscored the Clippers 33-24 in the second quarter to take an eight point halftime edge and kept the Clippers at bay the rest of the way. The Thunder shot 51.3 percent from the floor and knocked down 11 of 26 three point attempts to help offset missing 11 of 40 free throws. Paul George had 42 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead Oklahoma City.
The Thunder is mediocre offensively this season as they are 21st with an average of 103.3 points per game. Oklahoma City is 23rd in the league in rebounding with 42.1 boards per contest. The Thunder is 21st in assists with 21.3 per game. Oklahoma City is 3rd in the league in scoring defense as they allow 98.4 points a night. Carmelo Anthony is second on the Thunder with 20.3 points plus 5.8 boards a night. Russell Westbrook contributes 19.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game. Paul George adds a team high 21.3 points plus 2.58 steals a contest and Steven Adams chips in 12.3 points plus 8.4 boards a night. Jerian Grant, Andre Roberson, Raymond Felton, Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson have to make their presence known on both ends. Oklahoma City is 18th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 44.7 percent from the floor. The Thunder is tied for 6th with 11 made threes per game and stands 20th in three point shooting at 34.8 percent.
- Mavericks are 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 vs. Western Conference
- Mavericks are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall
- Mavericks are 0-8 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record
- Thunder are 14-5 ATS in their last 19 games vs. a team with a winning % below .400
The Mavericks have really had problems early on this season and playing the second game of a back to back on the road doesn’t help matters. For that matter, facing a team like the Thunder with three terrific weapons on the offensive end of the floor, especially with them coming off a win, is no picnic either. Oklahoma City is still figuring out how to make things work with their three stars but facing a struggling Dallas team who is going to be dealing with fatigue should work in their favor. Take Oklahoma City at home here.