Fans of the Dallas Mavericks were worried about their long layoff before Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
We can cross that one off the list.
The Mavericks won fairly handily 121-112 as 6-point home favorites. The Don Best odds screen already has them as 5 ½-point ‘chalk’ for Thursday’s Game 2 with 199 ½-points for the total. ESPN will broadcast at 6:00 p.m. (PT) from American Airlines Center.
Dallas had eight days rest heading into Tuesday and looked lethargic early in the second quarter, down 32-23. However, the Mavs had a seven-point lead by halftime (55-48) and led by as much as 16 before holding off a late run.
One player who was never lethargic was Dirk Nowitzki. He hit 12-of-15 shots (80 percent), ending up with 48 points. He was a mind-boggling 24-of-24 from the line, with Oklahoma City actually having more total free throw attempts (43-36).
Nowitzki got offensive help from reserve guards Jason Terry (24 points) and Jose Juan Barea (21 points). The rest of the team combined for just 28 points, but that was plenty of offense overall.
The 233 combined points scored blew past the 194 ½-point total. The ‘over’ is 3-0 in Dallas’ last three games and 5-1 in the last six, although all the other totals were lower in the 180s. The team is scoring 99.1 PPG this postseason and allowing 90.4 PPG.
The Mavericks are 9-2 straight up and 10-0-1 against the spread this postseason (6-0 SU and ATS at home). They’ve won seven straight games after winning the last two versus Portland and then sweeping the Lakers in a big upset.
Dallas is 3-1 SU and ATS against Oklahoma City this year. The only loss (99-95) was in Big D back in January with Nowitzki out with an injury. The ‘over’ is 3-1 in those meetings.
The Thunder shouldn’t be too discouraged as a split in Dallas would meet their goal. They shot 47.2 percent from the floor last game and Nowitzki and Dallas (53.4 percent overall) can’t be counted on to be that hot again. Scott Brooks’ team also showed resilience in fighting back from the large deficit.
The Thunder had just one day rest before opening this series. They needed a full seven games to dispatch a pesky Memphis team last round. Oklahoma City has a lot of young legs, so fatigue is not a good excuse for the Dallas loss.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points in the opener and provides a huge matchup problem for Dallas, just as Nowitzki does for the Thunder. Durant was 10-of-18 from the floor, but also 18-of-19 from the charity stripe.
Point guard Russell Westbrook is the other big gun, averaging 23.6 PPG in the playoffs to go with Durant’s 29.8 PPG. James Harden is next at 12.4 PPG. Westbrook was just 3-of-15 (20 percent) from the field last game, although he did have 20 points after going 14-of-18 from the line.
Westbrook is averaging 15.8 PPG in the four games against Dallas this season, but shooting just 28.8 percent from the field. There are not enough other scorers to compensate when he shoots so poorly, so a big game on Thursday is vital.
The Thunder are trailing for the third time in these playoffs. They won both Games 2 and 4 to tie up the Memphis series, the latter coming on the road in triple OT (133-123). They’ll take a win any way they can get it on Thursday.
Oklahoma City is 2-4 SU and 2-3-1 ATS on the road in the playoffs overall.
Dallas’ Caron Butler (knee) is the only significant injury being reported. There was talk about him returning for this series, but that’s very unlikely now.
The scene will shift to Oklahoma for Game 3 on Saturday and this series will play twice before Miami and Chicago play their third game on Sunday.