Western Conference Final Preview

Dallas Mavericks versus the Oklahoma City Thunder for a right to the NBA Finals.

Wait, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Well, that’s what we have on our hands. No one could have predicted this. Not with a 60 win Spurs team and the two time defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers still alive in the playoffs. However, as the second round settled down in the Western Conference, both were gone. Spurs in the first round and the Lakers imploded on the national stage, getting swept by the aforementioned, Mavericks.
Scottie Brooks was asked how it feels to be in the Western Conference Finals.

“It feels great, we put in tons of hard work to get here.” Brooks said.

From 3-29 to just four wins away from playing in the NBA Finals is something most Oklahoma City Thunder fans never expected to happen in such short of time. Led by All Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, OKC has used hard work and determination to get them to stardom. Durant is always the first in the gym and the last to leave. The two time scoring champion’s determination is always on full display.

“When we were 3-29, Kevin always gave me 29-3 determination.” Brooks said.

Durant has been playing basketball for almost 12 months straight and you’d think a toll would be taken on a young player. However, Durant hushed any doubters that hey may have gotten by dropping 39 points in a Game 7.  Westbrook also quieted any doubters with a wonderful triple-double in Game 7. It was only the 5th triple-double in Game 7 history.

Everyone understand what the Thunder have endured. We’re all along just for the ride. As the Daily Thunder said in their preview, “We’re playing with house money.” It’s true. This is like the Laker series last season. Not many are giving the Thunder any chance.

The Dallas Mavericks have taken a different road to the Western Conference Finals. 11 straight seasons of 50 wins or more. However, come the playoffs, they’ve been lackluster to say the least. Mavericks have won just one series since making the NBA Finals in 2005-2006. Led by All-NBA Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks can be an unstoppable force on the court.  Nowitzki finished fourth in the NBA in scoring at 26.5 points per game. It seems like no one can guard him. He’s averaging 31.4 PPG against the Thunder.

Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic have been deadly from three point range. Making the Dallas bench very tough to defend. Terry is shooting 50% from three point range in the playoffs and Stojakovic 46.2%.

The Western Conference Finals has produced some unforgettable match ups over the years.

  • 2002: 4-3 Lakers win vs. Kings
  • 1999: 4-3 Lakers win vs. Trail Blazers
  • 1996: 4-3 Sonics win vs. Jazz
  • 1993: 4-3 Suns win vs. Sonics
  • 1988: 4-3 Lakers win vs. Mavericks

I think we’ll be able to add Thunder vs. Mavericks to the list of the fantastic match ups.

It’s a key to watch the Thunder defend on Nowitzki. He’s slightly unconscious against the Thunder. He’s key down the stretch against the Thunder in the past. Will Ibaka guard him? What about Thabo Sefolosha?

The Thunder will have to be more consistent in late game execution. It killed them multiple times against the Grizzlies. A veteran team like the Mavericks will make you pay. They’ll make the shots and send you  home with a fat L, just ask the Lakers in Games 1 & 3.

Buckle up Thunder fans, we’re in for another long series I think. Game 7 is on Sunday, May 29th. We could still be in the same series come Sunday.

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