The Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder were expected to be fringe contenders for a Western Conference playoff spot this season. So far, though, the 21-11 Mavericks and 17-15 Thunder are both easily in the West’s top eight, as the fifth and seventh seeds, respectively.
The Mavs and Thunder will meet in OKC today with both teams struggling through some injury problems (8 p.m. ET Tuesday). Dallas has Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. as questionable to play in this game, and Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder are questionable for OKC.
The contest should be close. The Mavs have the better record on the season, but the Thunder are playing at home and are 11-4 in their last 15 games.
Here we will give a detailed preview of this NBA game and finish off with our Mavs vs OKC predictions.
Will Mavs’ Five-Out Approach Work Against Steven Adams & Nerlens Noel?
Dallas has the NBA’s best offense this season. MVP candidate Luka Doncic is the individual who deserves the most credit for the team’s success. The squad’s overall strategy orchestrated by head coach Rick Carlisle deserves some credit as well.
The Mavs attempt 41.2 three-pointers per game, which is more than every team in the NBA except the Houston Rockets. Aside from big man Dwight Powell, all of the Mavericks’ top seven minute-getters attempt at least 3.7 threes per game. Basically, when Powell is off the floor, Dallas spaces its five players around the three-point arc to keep the paint open for drives and cuts.
Adams and Noel are the two centers for the Thunder. Both guys specialize in rim protection and are a big part in stabilizing the Thunder defense. They can defend the perimeter, but they are at their best close to the basket. It will be interesting to see if Mavs big men Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber can be accurate threats for the perimeter and force Adams and Noel out of the paint.
Is Darius Bazley’s Shooting For Real?
Bazley is a 19-year-old rookie forward who plays for the Thunder mainly for defensive and development purposes. He is very raw on the offensive end of the floor, as evidenced by his 11-of-52 (21.2 percent) shooting from the field and 4-of-28 (14.3 percent) shooting from downtown in the first 13 games of December.
However, Bazley was a huge factor in the Thunder’s upset road win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. He bagged four three-pointers in seven attempts for all of his 12 points. It was his first double-figure scoring game since November 5.
The Thunder will likely need Bazley to contribute his scoring punch in this game. OKC has both Dennis Schroder and Danilo Gallinari listed as questionable to play in this game due to ankle injuries, so we could see Bazley in the starting lineup and playing big minutes again. Even if both guys are available, they likely won’t be at full strength.
Can Tim Hardaway Jr.’s Replacement Provide Some On-Ball Creation?
Like Gallinari and Schroder for the Thunder, Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. are listed as questionable to play due for Dallas due to injuries. I believe Doncic will play; he’s just so valuable to the team, and the last time he was questionable (last week against the Spurs), he ended up playing.
Hardaway, on the other hand, may be someone the Mavs keep out of this game. His hamstring strain, suffered in the Mavs’ last game, doesn’t seem to be too serious but he’s a bit more replaceable.
If Hardaway is limited or out, Dallas will need someone to step up as a quality second creator next to Doncic in starter-heavy lineups. Doncic is often asked to do a lot on the offensive end for the Mavericks, and with him hobbled, he may need a bit more help than usual. Delon Wright and Seth Curry have their strengths as backup guards, but neither is known for being particularly steady as a secondary ball-handler. We’ll see what they can contribute today.
Our Betting Preview’s Dallas Mavericks vs OKC Predictions & Picks Verdict
Both teams have key players on their perimeter who are dealing with injuries that may or may not take them out of the game. With how valuable Luka Doncic is to the Mavericks and the lack of creators outside of him, I worry about Dallas’ ability to perform up to its standards as the NBA’s best offense.
The Thunder’s defense should be able to close off the paint with Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel and make the Mavericks’ offense too one-dimensional. These are our Dallas vs Thunder predictions:
- The Mavs are the favorite by 1.5 points with the online betting firms for American customers. The first of USAbetting’s picks is to put money on the Thunder +1.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or Intertops.
- Injuries for both teams mean their depth will be tested and they may play at slower paces to make up for shorter rotations. While the Mavs are deeper, I think the Doncic injury is a huge deal for their offense, even if he ends up playing through it. The suggestion is to go under 219.5 total points being scored @ -110 with 5Dimes.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.