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Thunder face Mavericks in a huge Western Conference showdown




Oklahoma City will be back in action Monday as they host the Dallas Mavericks, but before we dive into the pregame, I’d like to recognize Kobe Bryant. Obviously one of the saddest days in NBA history, as a true legend and his daughter passed away. Thank you, Kobe for the legacy you left and the impact you had, and thoughts and prayers go out to loved ones of Kobe and Gianna.

The Thunder faced the Mavericks less than a month ago, and came away with a narrow five point victory, but a win here could be monumental. OKC would essentially swap spots with Dallas in the playoff picture, as the Thunder continue to climb in the playoff standings. This Thunder team is on a five game win streak and playing some of their best basketball of the year, and this would be a massive win in the standings and for momentum.

For Oklahoma City, there’s no telling who takes the court. In the past couple weeks, we’ve seen Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, Terrance Ferguson, Abdel Nader, and Danilo Gallinari all miss time with injury, but the Thunder have continued a next man up mentality.

The biggest beneficiary of this has been Thunder rookie Lu Dort. Lu Dort has started the games that Ferguson has missed, and the Thunder have yet to lose. Often, Dort is tasked with guarding the other teams best guard, and he has done a terrific job. He has locked down the likes of James Harden, Trae Young, and the Portland back court. This kid is carving out a role.

Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder have continued to be the backbone of this team. CP3 has been scoring more recently than he has all season and is in control of the game when he is in. Dennis Schroder continues to dominate fourth quarters and has proven he can score twenty points per game. Gilgeous-Alexander is not only scoring at will, but also getting rebounds, as he’s accumulated double digit rebounds in three of the last five games. Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala have also been finding their groove lately, a very positive sign for this injury prone front court.

The Mavericks come into town fresh off of a loss against Utah. Luka Doncic has really struggled to shoot the ball from deep recently and will look to get back on track against the Thunder. With Porzingis back in the lineup, the Thunder big men will have a tough task ahead with the talented young forward, as he’s averaged 15 PPG since returning from injury.

The Mavericks also are known for the bench as one of the better benches in the NBA. With Delon Wright, Boban, Jalen Brunson and more, the Thunder reserves will have to be up to the task. This is a squad that, from top to bottom, can shoot lights out. Seth Curry has knocked down 66% of triples in his past three games.

This game has massive Western Conference implications and provides a chance for the Thunder to make a statement win. The players know what’s at stake and this game will be treated as a mini playoff game with an awesome atmosphere.








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