Mar 17, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) drives against Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter (25) at the American Airlines Center. The Thunder beat the Mavs 107-101. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks: Looking To Make A Statement In OKC

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After splitting the first two games of their three-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks continue to vacillate between the No. 7 and No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings. The loss at Golden State on Monday diminishes the possibility of Dallas securing the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoff seeding. The Warriors have now won 10 of 13 games and catching them is highly unlikely.

If Dallas continues on their current path and can secure a postseason berth, they will likely claim the No. 7 or No. 8 seed and that will lead to a first-round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder (as of right now).

It will be hard to be optimistic about the Mavericks prospects of pulling a first-round upset as their combined record against these two teams stands at 0-4 on the season. Fortunately for Dallas, they will get another crack at defeating the Thunder when the two teams meet on Sunday, March 16.

May 5, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) fights to drive past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) in the fourth quarter during game four of the 2012 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Thunder beat the Mavs 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The stage is set for the Mavericks to make a much-needed statement to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have won 11 straight games against the Mavericks counting the 2011-12 playoffs and they have earned the right to feel supremely confident when the two teams hit the court.

At some point the Mavericks have to prove that they belong on the same court as the Thunder. With only 16 games left in the regular season, the Mavericks must begin finding a way to win games against the best teams in the Western Conference. Dallas is a paltry 5-12 against top six teams in the Western Conference this season.

The Mavericks will once again look to get Dirk Nowitzki involved early. After attempting only 11 shots in the 108-85 loss at Golden State, Nowitzki looked for his shot early and often the following night against the Utah Jazz. Nowitzki finished with an impressive line of 31 points and eight rebounds while shooting 12-of-14 from the field, and 4-of-4 from three-point range.

It may be a road game, but the Mavericks will come into Chesapeake Energy Arena well rested as they have no games scheduled until their big matchup on Sunday. The Mavericks face the Thunder twice before the regular season comes to an end and getting a win in Oklahoma City would be a huge step for a Dallas team in need of a statement win.

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