The last game of the night on NBA betting action on Saturday night pits the two teams against each other that played in last year’s Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks.
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The Mavs are the defending champs, but they clearly aren’t the same team as they were last year when they were able to win it all. Sure, the main pieces of the puzzle are the same in Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd in the lineup and Jason Terry off the bench. However, the pieces like JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler that are missing really are invaluable and don’t have any replacements. Nowitzki averaged 21.6 points per game this year, though his value on the defensive end of the court was clearly diminished for most of the year. Shawn Marion had to pick it up with 10.6 points and 7.4 boards per game, but the real problem that this team had was that Lamar Odom never panned out and is now a free agent. Brendan Haywood is going to have to have a good game in the paint both offensively and defensively to keep the big boys for the Thunder honest. Vince Carter did come on just a bit at the end of the year, and he was one of the many players that has given at least a level of consistency offensively. One thing that Dallas does well is shoot foul shots. The team has nine foul shooters that are good for knocking down at least 78 percent of the attempts from the charity stripe.
This is the third year that the Thunder have had their youth growing up in the playoffs, and the time is going to come that Head Coach Scott Brooks is expected to get this team a title. Kevin Durant won a third straight scoring title this year, coming up with 28.0 points per game, and he also had 8.0 boards per game as well. Russell Westbrook is averaging 23.6 points per game this year as well. He was good for 5.5 assists and 4.6 boards per game to boot, and as always, when he shoots the ball well, he can be one of the most electrifying players in the league. James Harden is going to be okay in the near future after taking an elbow in the neck from Metta World Peace in the last weekend of the regular season against the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, the rest of the team is weak from an offensive standpoint, though we know that this team has picked up a lot of defense. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are going to be the keys to take care of the likes of Nowitzki in the paint.
Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: We’re not really ready to lay this many points in a game in this series. We do think that this is going to be one of these series that really has a ton of close games, and though we do think that the Thunder are going to win this game, we can’t lay over a touchdown.
Free Basketball Pick: Dallas Mavericks +7.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.