The Thunder continues its lengthy four-game home stand with its first matchup of the season against the Dallas Mavericks. Following its loss to the Lakers on Friday, the Thunder had a day of practice on Saturday before hitting the hardwood again against Dallas on Sunday.
What to Watch
Keying in on Defense OKC’s defensive numbers have shown steady increases and improvements throughout the season. Particularly over the last six games, the Thunder’s increased its steals, forced turnovers and points off turnovers from its previous marks this season. Thunder forward Darius Bazley has made significant contributions in this area as he’s averaged two steals per game over the last five contests.
Big Rookie Numbers In OKC’s matchup against the Lakers, rookie Tre Mann led the Thunder with a career-high 19 points including three made 3-pointers and a monstrous slam over Wayne Ellington.
“That was crazy,” said fellow rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on Mann’s dunk. “It came out of nowhere event though we know he can do it. It was a great play.”
In addition, rookie guard Josh Giddey logged his fourth game of the season with a stat line of at least 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists which marks the most by a rookie in OKC history.
Luka and Kristaps Dallas’ two-time All Star Luka Dončić leads the Mavericks with 25.6 points per game as big man Kristaps Porzingis adds 19.6 of his own. Dončić ranks second in the league in unassisted field foals made this season while tallying the second most floaters and step backs made so far this season. However, the Mavs leading scorer has also logged two triple-double games in his 21 games played so far this year. Keep an eye out for how the Thunder works to limit looks from Dončić throughout the night.
While Sunday marks the first meeting between the Thunder and the Mavericks this season, the two teams have alternated victories over the past seven meetings in Oklahoma City. On average, those contests have been evenly matched with OKC and Dallas averaging 109 points per game and roughly 44 percent shooting from the field. Over that seven-game stretch in Oklahoma, the Mavericks hold the narrow 4-3 series lead.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on the lessons from the loss to the Lakers… “We might not be able to control if our shots are going in, we shot at a pretty low percentage from three throughout the majority of the game and they were hitting a lot of shots, but we can control what type of level we’re going to compete.”
Dallas enters Oklahoma City after falling to the Pacers 106-93 on Friday while shooting an uncharacteristic 13.8 percent from the 3-point line. Dončić led the way with 27 points and a near triple double with nine assists and nine rebounds. Porzingis chipped in 22 of his own while shooting 9-of-1 from the field.
Overall, Dallas’ offense generates among the fewest percentage of its points from the paint. In turn, the team thrives off of the 3-point line and the midrange. For the season, the Mavericks also turn the ball over at the second-lowest rate in the league.