Dallas Mavericks at OKC, 7 p.m. Thursday
|THUNDER 3-0||MAVS 0-2|
|F- Kevin Durant||F- Shawn Marion|
|F- Serge Ibaka||F- Dirk Nowitzki|
|C- Kendrick Perkins||C- Brendan Haywood|
|G- Thabo Sefolosha||G- Delonte West|
|G- Russell Westbrook||G- Jason Kidd|
• The Thunder transition game is among the best in the league. All players run the floor and attack the basket on the break. Westbrook has the strength, along with speed, putting him at the top of the list of point guards. Durant is great as a trailer to shoot the three. ... but can also finish.
• Scott Brooks used a deep playbook in the half-court. Primarily, look to see a lot of pindown sets, running Durant off a lot of down screens to get open on the wings. They will also run pick/roll action with Westbrook/Durant. Westbrook will take smaller guards and post them up.
• When James Harden is on the floor, he will be a focal point, along with Durant, in half-court sets.
• Their up tempo carries over into their half-court play as they get into their sets quickly. They are very good with ball movement, swinging the ball to the weak side quickly.
• The Thunder are a solid team in defensive transition. From time to time they will give up some chances, seeming to lose a bit of focus, but all five players normally get back hard to close off penetration lanes. Their length and athleticism benefits them greatly as well.
• Their half-court scheme is pretty basic and once again their athleticism allows them to play the ball aggressively. The perimeter defenders will chase (go over) screens and have very active hands in the passing lanes
• The post players will deny passes inside. Ibaka is a beast at the rim, led the league in blocked shots last year, and Collison and a trimmed down Perkins are very good interior defenders. Post players show hard on pick/roll situations but will mix coverage, especially in a situation where Nowitzki is involved and will pick/pop for the perimeter shot.
• Post also will switch some screens, especially late in shot clock. Ibaka is the best at this. ... and again, a premier shot-blocker even against premier leapers and dunkers.
• They can be penetrated on because they seem to rely too much on their athleticism and lose solid rotations against ball movement. Weak side cutters can hurt them getting to the basket.
• Dallas is 29th in the league in scoring defense allowing 110.0 points per game
• Dallas is 28th in Opponents FG%, allowing opponents to shoot .490.
• Dallas is 29th in Rebounding Differential at -15.0 per game
• OKC is 5th in FT% at .842. They led the league a year ago at .820
•The Mavs are busting out their alternative uni's, dark-blue edition ... We work on the assumption that Delonte will start again tonight as a possible answer to Westbrook's quickness ... Lamar Odom reported to work on the Mavs' Wednesday offday to get some Carlisle tutelage ... We are staying at the team hotel in OKC, the Skirvin, and it is purportedly haunted. First thing we encounter this morning in the lobby: A piano, playing itself! Haunted!
How to Beat the Thunder:
• Attack the rim. Do not settle for perimeter shots. That is a recipe disaster for the Mavericks.
• Intensity on defense. OKC has the potential to be more explosive than the Heat and the Nuggets. A poor defensive effort will make it a tough climb, especially on the road.
• Defensive transition -- a problem so far with Dallas, but a solvable one with this team's usual discipline in such areas.
Kyle Leath, a long-time Mavs staffer, former college head coach and now scout for the Denver Nuggets, provides you with an NBA-style scouting report before Mavs games.