Mavericks A Favorite (-6) Over Thunder In Game 1 Of West Finals
May 17th, 2011- By Bryan Cross
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks begin their Western Conference Final series on Tuesday night, with the Mavericks hosting at the American Airlines Center.
While Dallas will have gone nine days in between playing, the Thunder are fresh off of a full seven-game series with the Memphis Grizzlies, as they survived to move on one step closer to a berth in the NBA Finals.
“That’s a long layoff,” remarked Dallas’ big man Tyson Chandler. “Yesterday, the scrimmage got a little chippy, so it was obvious we were ready to play somebody else.”
Dallas dominated the two-time defending champion L.A Lakers in their previous series, resulting in a four-game sweep that allowed for this long layoff.
While the Mavericks have been waiting, the opposite can be said for the Thunder. Coming back from a 2-1 deficit early in the series, Oklahoma City finally knocked off a stingy Grizzlies team to reach this point, and now are eager to continue on the path towards a championship.
“We have a young, energetic, athletic team that loves to play and wants to play every night,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of his team, and the difference in the amount of time off between them and the Mavericks. “We’re excited about being in the position that we are in. We’re not ‘just happy to be here’ and just ‘whatever happens happens.”
Oklahoma City is definitely young, and they rely on those young players night-in and night-out. The top-four offensive leaders for the Thunder are under the age of 24, headlined of course by Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer.
Contrast that with the Mavericks, a veteran team of sorts with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd.
“We’ve got to put them in position they haven’t been in to be able to use that wisdom,” Kidd stated. “If you don’t, they’re just as talented as any team left in the playoffs.”
The Mavericks will have their work cut out for them with Durant, as well as guard Russell Westbrook. But they were able to handle Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and company in the previous series with apparent ease.
Of course, Oklahoma City has a great challenge in front of them as well, with the majority of their roster never having been this far into the playoffs.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Durant stated. “But it should be fun.”
Thunder/Mavericks Game 1 Betting Line: Oddsmakers at Bodog Sportsbook have set Dallas as a six-point favorite on their NBA Playoff Betting Lines, believing that they will defend their home-court to jump out to an early lead in the series. The over/under sitting at 194 points.