2011 NBA Western Conference Finals – Oklahoma City Thunder vs Dallas Mavericks Series Odds, Predictions, Free Picks and Preview: Heading into the playoffs, neither Dallas nor Oklahoma City had a history of playoff success. In fact, the Thunder hadn’t won a single playoff series since moving from Seattle, while the Mavericks were famous for their early round exits. However, both teams were able to defy the odds, and one of the two teams will get a chance to play for an NBA title.
This matchup is going to be a battle of youth versus experience, and it is a good thing that Oklahoma City is the young team. The Thunder are coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Mavericks have been resting for almost a week after sweeping the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Normally, the long layoff would be looked at as a potential problem, but it is just what the doctor ordered for a veteran Dallas squad.
The Mavericks will need some fresh legs in order to contain Oklahoma City’s superstar duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. It’s going to take a group effort on the part of the Mavericks to slow down both players because Dallas doesn’t have a lockdown defender on their roster. Of course it probably wouldn’t matter if the Mavericks did. Durant was able to light up stud defender Tony Allen for 39 points in the finale of their semifinal series, and he has led the NBA in scoring for back-to-back years for a reason.
The Thunder aren’t going to have an easy time defending the Mavericks either. Dirk Nowitzki is every bit as unstoppable as Durant, especially for the Thunder. Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka can make life miserable in the paint for offensive players, but Nowitzki is a rare breed of big man that can light you up with his jumper. He is going to be matchup nightmare in this series for Oklahoma City.
Outside of the star players for each team, the Thunder have the edge in the paint while the Mavericks have the advantage on the perimeter. Tyson Chandler is going to be a lonely man for Dallas trying to control the paint against Perkins and Ibaka, and Jason Kidd is going to have an even tougher time keeping Westbrook out of the lane. Meanwhile, Kidd, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry and Corey Brewer can all fill it up from 3-point range for the Mavericks. Oklahoma City’s big men are going to get tired in a hurry trying to defend the perimeter when Dallas stretches the floor.
In the end, the experience of the Mavericks is going to be a factor. As much credit as Durant is getting for his performance in Game 7 against the Grizzlies, Nowitzki deserves just as much for leading the Mavericks past the Lakers in dominating fashion. At some point, the young Thunder players are going to realize how close they are to winning a title, and that is going to add a type of pressure few in their roster has experienced. Couple that with the fact that they are going up against a Dallas team loaded with finals experience, and the smart money is on the Mavericks. Armed with home court advantage, Nowitzki will lead Dallas back to the finals for the first time since 2006, and Durant will have to wait another year to take get his shot.
Prediction: Dallas Mavericks Win in 6 Games
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NBA Playoffs Series Odds
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Dallas Mavericks
Oklahoma City Thunder +185
Dallas Mavericks -215
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