The Dallas Mavericks haven’t been very successful against the Oklahoma City Thunder over the last couple of years, and the second best offense in the NBA, led by Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki, will certainly be put to the test against the reunited duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Monta Ellis has been going through a great start on his new team, averaging 25 points and 5 assists per game, leading the second best offense in the NBA (114 points per game). However, Ellis has struggled against the Thunder in Bucks uniform, averaging only 6.7 points per game while shooting 21.9% from the field.
It seems that Ellis taking over the ball handling many times leaves Dirk Nowitzki more open than in the past. Ellis looks first and foremost to drive to the basket, which made things very easy for them in the 19-point win over the New York Knicks. Ellis had nine assists, and has had two games of 30 points and 8 assists or more this season.
The Thunder looked bad without Russell Westbrook, but he returned earlier than expected, scoring 21 points and adding 7 assists on his debut, which came along with the expected bad shooting percentage. However, no one is really worried about his shooting, as the Thunder seem quite pleased to have their old superstar duo again, once again following the thought process that all you need is stars to score in individualistic ways and a solid big man duo to rebound.
That may be an issue for the Mavs, even though Ibaka has been awful early this season, shooting 28% from the field while taking over 13 shots a game. Kendrick Perkins himself hasn’t been very dominant, but Kevin Durant’s scoring (29 points per game) seem to overtake all those problems.
The Mavs have been enjoying some strong performances from their bench in DeJuan Blair, Jae Crowder and Vince Carter, which just might be their advantage against the rather weak backup offering the Thunder have.
Prediction – The Mavs and other teams need defense to stop Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Unfortunately, with their explosive offense also comes a rather weak defensive team, which won’t be enough to slow down the Thunder in this one.