Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)
Television: TNT, FSOK
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
F Harrison Barnes is in his first season with the Mavericks, and it comes as no surprise that he is flourishing as their star player rather than as a role player like he was in Golden State. So far this season, Barnes is averaging 20.2 points and 5.3 rebounds, both career highs. Andre Roberson will likely get the matchup with Barnes, and with the Mavericks missing several players tonight, Barnes will have quite a load to carry.
Keys to the Game
- Take Care of the Ball: One area that the Mavericks have excelled in is forcing opponents into turnovers. Dallas forces opponents into 15.4 mistakes per game (6th in the NBA), and Oklahoma City turns the ball over 15 times a game. The Thunder has struggled to take care of the ball lately, turning it over at least 15 times in 6 of their last 7 games. Oklahoma City needs to make good passes and be smart with the ball to avoid giving Dallas any opportunity to hang around and make a run.
- Beat ‘Em Up: Dallas is horrifically bad down low. They rank dead last in points in the paint with 32.5 per game, as well as rebounds with 38.1 per game, both areas that the Thunder excels in. Oklahoma City ranks 2nd in the league in points in the paint with 50.0 per game and 4th in the NBA with 45.5 rebounds per game. The Thunder big men have been playing extremely well in the month of January, and they should have no trouble continuing their success tonight.
- Take Care of Business: Simply put, the Mavericks are not nearly as good as they have been in recent years. They have struggled with injuries the majority of season, and tonight they will be missing Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Wes Matthews, and J.J. Barea. On top of that, they are not that deep of a team, so they rely a lot on inexperienced players. Despite all of this, Dallas has won 5 of their last 7 games. If the Thunder can control the tempo of the game, take care of the ball, and play as a team, they should have no issue coming away with a win tonight at home.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.