Hoping to close the gap in the Western Conference, the sixth place Dallas Mavericks welcome into American Airlines Center, the third place Oklahoma City Thunder for tonight’s NBA showdown (8:35pm ET, Wednesday).
In doing so, the Mavericks will be looking to avoid a series sweep for the second time in four years, as Oklahoma City enters as winners of the first three meetings this season.
Currently the Thunder are 4.5 point favorites with an over/under set at around 215 points for the game with the likes of Bovada, BetOnline and 5Dimes sportsbooks. But before we get to this preview’s betting picks, let’s look at the storylines and keys to the game.
Since 1980, the year the Mavericks joined the NBA, these two teams have met 146 times, 164 if you count playoff appearances. In these games, the rivalry is about even with OKC holding just a six game lead overall, in part because of their success this year.
The Thunder have won all three meetings this year, following up on the prior season which saw them lose three of four. Only one of those wins has been in blowout fashion however. The other two games were decided by a total of six points, the Thunder winners by three each time.
At the team’s last meeting, just about a month ago on January 22, the Thunder defeated the Mavericks at Dallas for the first time since the 2012-13 season. But even in that season, which saw OKC sweep the season series for the first time since 2006-07, back when they were still the Seattle Supersonics, two of those wins came in overtime.
Oklahoma City and Dallas have played to close contests like this more often than not recently and that of course is in part because the two teams are so evenly matched. Both the Mavericks and Thunder are among the top Western Conference teams almost every year and this is a trend that looks to continue.
Today’s game will be quite impactful though because not only will it give the Thunder, who have been on a bit of a skid lately, a chance to lengthen their lead and cement their place as one of the top three teams, but it will also signify a shift. Dallas needs this win, especially since they are at home and especially since the seventh and eighth teams in the West are closer than the Mavs find comfortable right now.
Sweeping any team is difficult so I’d have to say that the 4-0 possibility is quite unlikely. But, the Thunder are favored and if you’ve read my basketball previews on USAbetting.com this year, you’ll know why.
I have written about Thunder games before and in these previews I have mentioned the prolific duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (pictured). I’m going to mention them again because not only are they one of the best twosomes in the league, but they are the reason year in and year out for the Thunder being as good as they are.
Earlier I mentioned the Thunder dropping three of four in their season series against the Mavericks last year. Well 2014-15 was, non-coincidentally, the year that Durant missed significant time due to injury. The Thunder were expected to be major playoff contenders but in light of their star’s injury, the team missed the postseason altogether, having just gone to the conference finals the year prior.
This may sound like a broken record but the Thunder go as Durant goes and to a slighter lesser extent Westbrook.
The Thunder have dropped three of their last five and while Durant has been a scoring machine, Westbrook has struggled, He is averaging less than his current season mark of 24 points per game and given his high volume of shots, this has been a problem for OKC.
Interestingly enough however it has been the defense for the most part that has spurred the Thunder on to victory against the Mavericks. In the three games, OKC has an average rebound margin of over 10.5. The Mavericks have been crushed on the boards all season and one of OKC’s strengths is crashing the offensive glass. However, the Mavericks recently made the move to acquire David Lee, whose main role is going to be fixing this massive rebound deficit.
Having Lee is a big plus for the Mavericks and adding to that is the return of Devin Harris, who is back after missing the last 10 games. Dallas has gotten its health back and that’s the first start to defeating the Thunder as the last time these teams met Dallas was not at full strength and even chose to rest their starters in the back-to-back of a semi home-and-home back in January.
Our Preview’s OKC at Dallas Mavericks Betting Picks Predictions
The Thunder have lost three of their last five while the Mavericks have dropped five of their last seven. Dallas played three straight overtime games, two losses, before getting just their second victory of February, against the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers. Oklahoma City has played a bit of a tougher schedule, although their blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers was certainly not the outcome they expected.
Smart money is on the Thunder. Sweeps are tough but OKC is the better team and Durant has been on fire lately. He can’t carry the team alone and the Thunder will need Westbrook to step it up, but overall, OKC is the better team.
- I suspect that they will get the win but I expect it to be by under the spread, given how close the two teams’ games have been all year. So for the betting pick I am advising a wager on the Dallas Mavericks +5pts @ -110 odds with Bovada Sportsbook. It is -4.5pts with BetOnline and 5Dimes.
- As for the total prediction, our pick is to go with the under 215 total points in the game @ -110 with BetOnline. It is under 214.5pts with 5Dimes, while Bovada have yet to post odds for total points.