Shootaround report: Dallas defense prepares to contain Durant, Westbrook
Shootaround report: Thunder (31-8) at Mavericks (17-23)
Dallas defense prepares to contain Durant, Westbrook
After hitting 13-of-28 from the floor and 4-of-8 from 3-point range in that December meeting, Durant will see a multitude of defenders Friday night. He'll also see the Mavs’ best perimeter defender right away, after versatile forward Shawn Marion was forced to start that night at power forward instead of at his customary 3 spot while 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki made his second appearance off the bench following preseason arthroscopic knee surgery.
And with Marion the first to draw the defensive assignment on the Thunder’s No. 1 scoring option, the Mavs hope to hold the visiting team in check while trying to finish up an unbeaten four-game homestand by extending a winning streak that's currently at four straight victories.
“We’ve got to make it hard for him,” Marion said as the Mavs try to contain Durant. “You know, the last time we played them I started at the 4. I didn’t start on him, making things hard on him and he was able to get going. You’ve got to make him take jumpers. If you score 40 points on jumpers, you’re a bad man. So we’re going to make him take tougher shots and going to make him play both ends of the floor.”
“Well, I thought Dahntay [Jones] did a pretty good job on him to start the game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “This will be different. Shawn’s an experienced guy with Durant, and again, we’re going to have to have everybody ready. Dahntay is going to have be ready to come in and guard either him or [Kevin] Martin. Vince [Carter] is going to be guarding those guys some. It’s not just going to be about Shawn Marion matching up against Durant. It’s going to be the five guys on the floor have got to know where he’s at, what he’s doing and we’ve got to make sure we’re channeling him to the right areas on the court and giving the right kind of help.”
Meanwhile, the Mavs will also try to limit the impact of All-Star lead guard Russell Westbrook after his 16-point, 10-assist night in the first meeting. And with the Thunder riding into town after winning five consecutive games, Carlisle stressed to his team the importance of playing as one unit on the defensive end.
“That’s our calling card. When we’re right and playing our best, we’re functioning as a true team,” the coach explained. “Our defense is five guys reacting to the ball. It’s not about who’s guarding Westbrook or who’s guarding Durant, and that’s the way it’s got to be.”
Note: The Mavericks return to action at the American Airlines Center for the finale of their four-game homestand Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder leads the season series 1-0 after downing the Mavs in a 111-105 overtime road loss on Dec. 27. The game will air locally at 8:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.