There is entertainment value in media predictions. (Even if most of the national media predictions for Mavs-OKC are rather lopsided.) DB.com believes there is even greater value in the thoughts of an actual NBA scout, so we bring in Nuggets staffer Kyle Leath to dig into the playbooks for tonight's Game 1, Mavs at Thunder:
Tonight's info and the lineups
Dallas Mavericks at Thunder, Game 1, 8:30 tip ... Delonte missed this morning's shootaround due to illness. Surely, he'll pour some hot sauce on it and give it a go, but still ... The DB.com Mavs Get-Together is ON at Red Rock Bar & Grill ...
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We'll be there at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, with Mavs giveaways, drink specials and live music after the game! Come see Fish and The 75-Member Staff at Red Rock!
|F- Kevin Durant
||F- Shawn Marion
|F- Serge Ibaka
||F- Dirk Nowitzki
|C- Kendrick Perkins
||C- Brendan Haywood
|G- Thabo Sefolosha
||G- Vince Carter
|G- Russell Westbrook
||G- Jason Kidd
Follow the game on Twitter with the Mavs Twitterverse ...
As has been the case for 13 years, the 75-Member Staff is the best in the Mavs business!
OKC on Offense:
• The Thunder transition game is among the best in the league. All players run the floor and attack the basket on the break.
"We don’t want to get in a willy-nilly, windshield-wiper game with these guys,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle at today's shootaround, "because their speed will dominant that kind of game."
Westbrook has the strength, along with speed, putting him at the top of the list of point guards. Durant is great as a trailer to shoot the three. He's a threat from anywhere on the floor, of course, and in fact, his early-season buzzer-beating 3 against Dallas may have set a tone for both the No. 2 seeded Thunder and the No. 7 seeded Mavs:
• Scott Brooks used a deep playbook in the half-court. Primarily, look to see a lot of pindown sets, running Durant off a lot of down screens to get open on the wings. They will also run pick/roll action with Westbrook/Durant. Westbrook will take smaller guards and post them up. Delonte West must handle Westbrook on the perimeter and also survive this.
• Their up-tempo carries over into their half-court play as they get into their sets quickly. They are very good with ball movement, swinging the ball to the weak-side quickly.
OKC on Defense:
• The Thunder are a solid team in defensive transition. From time to time they will give up some chances, seeming to lose a bit of focus, but all five players normally get back hard to close off penetration lanes. Their length and athleticism benefits them greatly as well.
• Their half-court scheme is pretty basic and once again their athleticism allows them to play the ball aggressively. The perimeter defenders will chase (go over) screens and have very active hands in the passing lanes.
• The post players will deny passes inside. Ibaka is a beast at the rim, led the league in blocked shots last year, and Collison and a trimmed-down Perkins are very good interior defenders. (Collison is capable of having some success against Dirk Nowitzki all over the floor.) Post players show hard on pick/roll situations but will mix coverage, especially in a situation where Nowitzki is involved and will pick/pop for the perimeter shot.
• Post also will switch some screens, especially late in shot clock. Ibaka is the best at this.
• They can be penetrated on because they seem to rely too much on their athleticism and lose solid rotations against ball movement. Weak-side cutters can hurt them getting to the basket.
Scout Kyle Leath on How to Beat the Thunder:
• DEFEND. Every possession! Do so with the intensity that marked the first half of Dallas' season.
• GET BACK. Defensive transition is critical. Dallas must get back and stop the break. Make OKC play in the half-court, where their athletic edge can be negated a bit. Open-floor turnovers will be killers for the Mavs and must be avoided.
• FOCUS. Stay focussed on defensive end of floor. There is no excuse for mental defensive lapses -- especially with the Mavs' strength as a veteran team.
• PATIENCE. Work the offense and make OKC defend GOOD shots, not early, rushed ones. Dirk eyeballing the shot clock at the far end of the floor is almost always a good thing ...
As Kidd said this morning, "We’ve got to use our wisdom, keep the game close and hope that we make all the right plays at the end."
Kyle Leath, a long-time Mavs staffer, former college head coach and now scout for the Denver Nuggets, provides you with an NBA-style scouting report before Mavs games.