Preview: Mavs face Thunder in pivotal Western Conference matchup … –

All Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving and his teammates have to do is just take a look at the standings and they’ll know the Oklahoma City Thunder have been a very resourceful team this season.

The Thunder own the third-best record in the Western Conference at 12-6 and also have the sixth-best record in the NBA.

“They’re a good team,” Irving said. “They’re showing it night in and night out.

“Their record is what it is. But they’re going to be a team that’s going to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.”

The Mavs are the next squad to match up with the Thunder when the two teams collide Saturday at 8 p.m. at American Airlines Center. And Irving knows the Thunder have a handful of terrific young players who are pining to make their mark in the NBA.

“(I’m) just looking forward to seeing them up close, not only Chet (Holmgren), but also SGA (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander),” Irving said. “A few of those guys played in the summertime in the FIBA world games.

Grant“They’re in great shape, they’ve got a great camaraderie around them, they play defense really hard. Offensively, you can tell they’re a juggernaut, so we’ll have our hands full (Saturday).”

The Mavs (11-7) will be trying to rebound after losing Friday at home to the Memphis Grizzlies, 108-94. It was a game the Mavs played without Luka Doncic, who sat out after the birth of his daughter.

Forward Grant Williams said the Mavs had well-intentions of defeating the Grizzlies, but can’t be a team that relies on its offense to generate energy.

“If our offense isn’t necessarily doing its job, that’s going to happen sometimes where shots don’t fall,” Williams said. “I felt like (Friday) there were shots that I shot that I thought, ‘That’s got to go down.’

“My body language was terrible, and I (have) got to be better for our team because it feeds off — when one person has bad body language, other guys do the same. I’m too consumed in myself right now, and I need to be better in terms of picking guys up. We’ll tell guys good shot, but not telling them to keep fighting and keep going, and I feel like that’s too much of me being selfish right now. I’ve got to be better as a teammate, be better as a leader, be better as a guy that can help and lift.”Grant


*This is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Mavs. Dallas dropped the front end, 108-94, on Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Also, the Mavs will complete this four-game home stand Wednesday against the Utah Jazz before hitting the road to play in Portland on Dec. 8 and in Memphis on Dec. 11.

*For Oklahoma City, this is the opener of a brief two-game road trip. After playing the Mavs, the Thunder won’t play again until they play in Houston on Wednesday, followed by a home game against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

*Derrick Jones Jr. and Grant Williams led the Mavs in scoring against Memphis on Friday with 16 points apiece. Jones was 4-of-7 from three-point land in that game, and hiLukas four made triples ties for the most in his NBA career.

*Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and handed out seven assists to lead OKC to a 133-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday. Gilgeous-Alexander was 11-of-18 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He also is first in NBA in steals (2.3), fifth in scoring (30.6), to go with averages of 5.9 rpg and 6.1 apg.

*Luka Doncic is third in the NBA in scoring (31.1), and also leads the Mavs in rebounds (8.0), assists (7.9) and steals (1.3).

*Thunder center Chet Holmgren is one of the leading candidates to win this year’s Rookie of the Year honors. Holmgren averages 17.9 ppg and 7.8 rpg, and is tied for sixth in the league in blocks with 2.1 per game.

*The American Airlines Center will be hosting an NHL/NBA double-header on Saturday. Before the Mavs battle the Thunder, the Dallas Stars will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 1 p.m.

*Thunder rookie guard Cason Wallace has close ties to North Texas. Wallace, who scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shots during Thursday’s win over the Lakers, graduated from Richardson High School in 2022. Wallace played one season at Kentucky, then became the 10th overall pick of this past June’s NBA Draft by the Mavs, who parlayed the selection into a trade which eventually brought rookie center Dereck Lively II to Dallas.



When: 8 p.m., Saturday

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas


Radio: 97.1 FM The Freak; 99.1 FM Zona MX (Spanish)

X: @DwainPrice

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Ellis Wilder

Hey there! My name is Ellis Wilder, and I'm a student at the University of Calgary. When I'm not hitting the books, you can usually find me writing articles for sports and travel blogs. I've always had a passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures, so I love sharing my travel stories with others. Whether I'm hiking in the Rocky Mountains or exploring a new city, I always try to capture the essence of the places I visit in my writing. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them!

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