Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder (-5, 211.5 o/u)
The Dallas Mavericks (36-19, 19-10 away) aren’t expected to be active before today’s NBA trade deadline; the team already added point guard Rajon Rondo in December and recently announced the signing of former Knick Amar’e Stoudemire.
“To play alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and other great players, I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for me to compete for a championship,” said Stoudemire, who is averaging 11.9 PPG during the last two seasons.
While many are concerned that Stoudemire’s best days are well behind him, Rondo has confidence in his new teammate. “He’s an All-Star, maybe a future Hall of Famer, and he’s been in the game for a long time. So it won’t take him a long time to adjust. I’m not worried about Amar’e,” said the Mavs point guard.
Rondo, who has missed the last half a dozen games with a broken bone near his eye, plans on returning tonight, and the team is excited to be near full strength again.
“I think the break came at the right time,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki. “We were banged up a little bit. Hopefully everyone feels well [Thursday] and is rested.”
Up next for the Mavs is an away game at the Oklahoma City Thunder (28-25, 16-8 home). Like the Mavs, the Thunder have also struggled with injuries all season. But the squad is finally healthy and carries a three-game win streak into tonight’s game.
“We want to look at the things we’ve done well the last week or so and just try to recreate that and kind of take control of our season ourselves,” said Thunder forward Nick Collison. “It helps to get guys back healthy. Obviously, hopefully, we keep that going. But the big thing for us is every single night, we’ve got to realize that we control how we play, and we are in control of our season.”
Added OKC head coach Scott Brooks, “The thing I love about our team – there’s no excuses. There’s plenty of games left. We don’t know how it’s going to end, but I do know – I’m positive about this – that our group is going to continue to play hard and for each other.”
The Thunder’s recent resurgence has moved the team to within half a game of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. A win tonight would move Dallas into a tie with Phoenix for the coveted position.
However, expect a rejuvenated Mavs team to give OKC all it can handle tonight. The Dallas moneyline [+184] looks like the play.
(Photo credit: By Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (00033631) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)