Western Conference Quarterfinals: Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder

2012 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #1
Best of Seven Series, Format 2-2-1-1-1
#7 Dallas Mavericks at #2 Oklahoma City Thunder
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 9:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Series Price: OKC -525 / DAL +425 (courtesy of bookmaker)
Game #1 Opening Line: Oklahoma City -7 1/2
Game #1 Current Line: Oklahoma City -7 1/2
Game #1 Opening Total: 194
Game #1 Current Total: 193 1/2
Game #1 Opening Money Line: Thunder -380 / Mavericks +320
Game #1 Current Money Line: Thunder -385 / Mavericks +325

Kevin Durant and the Thunder take on the Mavericks in game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are a 7.5 point favorites at home.

Last season, the same two teams met in the Western Conference Finals. Dallas beat the young Thunder in five games en route to their first NBA title in franchise history. This season, Dallas has struggled, and barely qualified for the playoffs as the #7 seed. During the off season, the Mavericks lost talented players like center Tyson Chandler and back-up point guard J.J. Barea to free agency. It also didn’t help that superstar Dirk Nowitzki admitted he was caught off guard by the abrupt end to the lockout in December and wasn’t in shape for the season. Dallas, coached by Rick Carlisle, lost 4 of their last 6 games to fall from the #6 to the #7 seed with a 36-30 record. Dallas lost 106-89 on Thursday in Atlanta to close out the regular season. The Mavericks rested most of their starters despite the fact that they could have caught Denver for the #6 seed.

The 47-19 Oklahoma City Thunder, coached by Scott Brooks, led the Western Conference for most of the year. However, an 8-7 finish allowed San Antonio to catch them for the #1 seed. The Thunder won the Northwest Division easily and will have to settle for the #2 seed. Oklahoma City lost at home Wednesday night 106-101 to Denver. The Thunder rested most of their players except Kevin Durant who was trying to win the scoring title. Durant scored 32 to lock up the title with 28 points a game, and finished ahead of Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers by a tenth of a point.

Oklahoma City won 3 of the 4 meetings against Dallas this season, but they haven’t played since March 5. The Thunder won 104-102 December 29 in OKC, 95-86 at Dallas February 1, and 95-91 March 5 at home. The only Dallas win came at home January 2 100-87.

Dallas is outscoring opponents 96-95 this season. Dallas is shooting 44.3% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. The Mavericks make 77.1% from the free throw line. Dallas averages 42.8 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of -1.1. The Mavs average 20.9 assists, 14 turnovers, 8.6 steals, and 5.1 blocks a game. Dallas opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Mavericks are in the top 12 in both categories. Dallas forces 14.8 turnovers a game.

Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki averages 21.6 points to lead the team, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. He is probable with a wrist injury. Shooting guard Jason Terry averages 15.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Small forward Shawn Marion averages 10.6 points, 7.4 rebounds to lead the team, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Vince Carter averages 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists a game. Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois, Brandan Wright, and Jason Kidd also contribute to the scoring. Wright leads the Mavericks in blocks with 1.3 a game. Kidd leads the team in assists with 5.5 and steals with 1.7 a game.

The Thunder are outscoring opponents 103-97 this season. OKC is #3 in scoring in the league. The Thunder are shooting 47.1% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. Oklahoma City is #3 in field goal percentage in the NBA and #11 in 3 point percentage. The Thunder lead the league in free throw percentage making 80.6% at the stripe. OKC is #6 in rebounding averaging 43.7 a game with a rebounding margin of +2.4 a game. The Thunder average 18.5 assists, 16.4 turnovers, 7.6 steals, and 8.2 blocks a game. OKC opponents are shooting 42.7% from the field and 34.2% from 3 point range. The Thunder are in the top ten in both categories. Oklahoma City forces 14.2 turnovers a game.

OKC forward Kevin Durant averages 28 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks a game. Durant leads the Thunder in scoring obviously, and in rebounding as well. Point guard Russell Westbrook averages 23.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. He leads the team in assists and steals. He is probable with a wrist injury.  James Harden averages 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game. He is probable with a concussion after a vicious elbow last Sunday by Lakers forward Metta World Peace. Serge Ibaka averages 9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks a game to lead the NBA. He is probable with a back injury. Guard Eric Maynor is out for the season with a knee injury.

OKC is 35-31 ATS this season and the total is 31-35. Dallas is 32-34 ATS and the total is 33-33 this season. The road team is 24-8-2 recently in this series, and the underdog is 17-4-1 as well. The under is 13-4-1 ATS in OKC, and Dallas is 13-3-1 ATS in those games. The Mavericks are 5-0-1 ATS in first round playoffs games,  3-0-1 as an underdog of 5-10.5 points, 8-1-1 as a playoff underdog, 6-2 after a straight up loss, 5-2 after allowing 100 points or more, 7-3-1 as a road underdog of 5-10.5 points, 2-5 overall, 2-7 in Saturday games, 1-4 in road games, as an underdog, and as a road underdog, and 1-5 in road games against teams with winning home records. The Thunder are 8-2-1 ATS on two days rest,  18-8 after failing to cover, 58-27-1 after a straight up loss, 3-7 in Saturday games, 2-5 overall, and against Western Conference teams, 1-4 as a home favorite of 5-10.5 points, 1-6 after scoring 100 points or more, 1-7 against teams with winning records, and 0-8 against Southwest division teams.

The Mavericks are not the same team that won the championship last year. However, they still have the talent to give the young Thunder a run for their money. Dallas has done well in Oklahoma City recently. I think the Thunder win game #1, but Dallas makes it a series. Thunder win in six games.

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