NBA: Thunder vs. Timberwolves and Mavericks vs. Heat Preview
Tonight’s NBA on TNT double-header includes two very interesting games. First up, we have the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves. The second game of the back to back is the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Miami Heat. Personally, I am really looking forward to that first match up, but I will still preview and predict both games for you. You’re welcome.
Oklahoma City vs. Minnesota: This game has some interesting factors leading up to tip. OKC has won 12 straight games and are an NBA best 21-4 overall. They will be looking for 13 straight wins tonight which would be the longest winning streak in franchise history since 1996. But number 13 won’t come easy. I think Minnesota is one of the better teams that the average fan doesn’t pay attention too. With Ricky Rubio returning to the team last week, it gives them what I consider one of the better duos in the league with Rubio and Kevin Love; and Rubio is only going to get better as he continues to come back from his injury. Speaking of dangerous duos, OKC has THE best duo in the league with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They are averaging a combined 46.4 PPG and are the only pair of teammates averaging at least 20 points each per game. Rubio will have a very hard time dealing with Westbrook’s superior size and quickness at the point so look for him to have a big game. As for Durant, Andrei Kirilenko will be guarding him tonight. AK is definitely a better than average defender, but you can’t stop Durant. You can only hope to contain him. Look for Durant to still get 20+ points tonight. Below is a breakdown of all the match-ups tonight, as well as my prediction.
PG: Westbrook vs. Rubio/Alexey Shved: Quite frankly it doesn’t matter who is at the point for the T-wolves. Nobody can guard Westbrook. I look for him to have a huge game.
SG: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Luke Ridnour: This one is close, but I believe the edge goes to Thabo. Much improved three-point shooter and one of the best wing defenders in the league. With Westbrook getting into the paint at will, the kick out three will be falling tonight for Thabo.
SF: Durant vs. Kirilenko: I give the edge to Durant. Although Kirilenko will bother Durant more than other defenders in the league have so far, Durant will still get 20+. Like always.
PF: Serge Ibaka vs. Love: I have to give the edge to Love on this one. I believe Love is a top three power forward in this league and should have a big game. Ibaka likes to protect the rim, but Love will draw him out of the paint and make him uncomfortable all night.
C: Kendrick Perkins vs. Nikola Pekovic: Edge goes to the T-Wolves. I believe Pekovic is the real deal. He is an above average post defender and rebounder and he loves to get physical in the paint. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple extra pushes from both of these physical players tonight.
The Benches: This match up easily goes to the Thunder. When you have Kevin Martin on your bench, your bench will have the edge most nights. Minnesota’s bench will be outscored by at least 15 points.
Prediction: The Thunder will make it 13 straight wins with a 103-91 win.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat: It is weird to think this was The Finals match up just two seasons ago. There are only two players on the Mavs roster from that championship team. And while Dallas is hovering around a .500 record, the Heat are making a run towards a second straight championship. One thing I am looking forward to for this game is watching LeBron James. No one on the Mavs can guard him. This will be a fun game to watch if you are a Heat/LeBron fan. Below is a breakdown of all the match-ups tonight, as well as my prediction.
PG: Darren Collison/Mario Chalmers: Collison gets the start because of Fisher’s injury. I think Collison should be the starting PG anyways. This one goes to the Mavs. Collison will out play both Chalmers and Norris Cole.
SG: O.J. Mayo/Dwyane Wade: This is a tough one, but I am going to give the edge to the Mavs. Mayo has exceeded expectations for Dallas this season by averaging 20.6 PPG. Look for Wade to give him fits, but Mayo is crafty and will still get his.
SF: Dahntay Jones/Shane Battier: This is a boring match up if you’re looking for offense. Both players focus on defense, but the edge goes to Battier. All he has to do is stand in the corner and he will get his favorite corner three all night
PF: Shawn Marion /LeBron: This is a no brainer. LeBron will be guarded by Marion most of the night, but it simply doesn’t matter who guards him. LeBron goes for a triple double.
C: Chris Kaman /Chris Bosh: Edge to the Heat. Chris Bosh still doesn’t get the respect he deserves because he plays in the shadows of both LeBron and Wade. Kaman is a below average defender and Bosh will have a better than average game tonight.
The Benches: The Heat bench is much improved with Ray Allen, and is definitely more effective than the Mavs bench. I think the Mavs bench will be outscored tonight, but Vince Carter and Collison keep it close.
Prediction: This game has the potential to be a blowout. The Mavs keep it close until the middle of the third quarter and the Heat pull away late for a 107-89 win.
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Brady is a die hard Jazz fan who was born and raised in Utah. If he isn't watching basketball, he is writing about it. He is a perfect example of a basketball junkie. You can follow him on Twitter @bradyslife.