It's hard to say whether the Golden State Warriors should be thrilled or terrified to see the Dallas Mavericks come to town.
The 0-4 Warriors look to continue their dominance over the Mavericks (3-1) when the teams meet Thursday for the first time since Golden State's shocking first-round playoff upset last season.
Golden State is 9-2 in its last 11 games against the Mavs, taking five straight during the regular season and knocking off the 67-win Mavericks in six games in the opening playoff round.
The high-scoring Mavs, however, will have no lack of motivation as they arrive at Oracle Arena looking to exact some revenge.
"We all still have a bitter taste in our mouths," Dirk Nowitzki told the team's official Web site. "But we understand that whatever we do now it doesn't take back what happened in May."
Dallas lost all three games at Oakland in that series as it became the first top seed to fall in the first round since 1999.
The Mavs, though, have bounced back this season and seem to be finding their form. In home wins Saturday and Monday over Sacramento and Houston, Dallas averaged 115 points and showcased its depth.
Starting point guard Devin Harris was out against the Kings with a bruised left thigh, but Jose Juan Barea scored 25 points in his place. Top reserve Jason Terry, meanwhile, had 31 points against the Rockets.
"I'm very comfortable in this role,'' said Terry, who's started for most of his NBA career but came off the bench for the University of Arizona when the Wildcats won the national championship in 1997. "I'm going to go out there and give us what we need, a good punch off the bench every night.''
The Mavs are somewhat banged-up, but should get a boost from the return of Harris, who's expected to play Thursday. Star forward Josh Howard (24.0 points per game) is day-to-day after turning his ankle against Houston, and center Erick Dampier practiced for the first time Tuesday after offseason shoulder surgery.
Unmatched depth, however, has allowed the Mavs to easily overcome their injuries. Even with Nowitzki scoring less this season at 21.5 points a game, Dallas is getting plenty of scoring from Terry (22.8), Howard and Jerry Stackhouse (11.0), among others. The Mavericks are tied for the league lead with a 50.5 field-goal percentage.
"We're an awfully tough team to beat because this is not a one-man band with Dirk," Dallas coach Avery Johnson told the team's official Web site. "We have a team."
That could be bad news for Golden State, which is allowing 119.5 points per game - most in the league and seven more than the next-worst average. The Warriors held the Mavs to less than 100 points in all four playoff wins last season.
For Golden State, Tuesday's 108-104 home loss to Cleveland actually represented a defensive improvement.
"I felt we were playing good basketball, and at one point we had the game under control,'' point guard Baron Davis said. "Then we had a couple of bad breaks defensively. It's a tough loss, but it was a great NBA game. We're young, and we keep trying to figure it out.''
Having traded away Jason Richardson and playing without Stephen Jackson for the first seven games (disciplinary suspension), the Warriors' starting lineup will look a bit different than the last time the Mavs saw it.
Mickael Pietrus and Kelenna Azubuike, neither of whom started during the 2006-07 playoffs, have started all four games this season for Golden State.
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