NBA Betting Trends: #3 Dallas Mavericks vs. #4 Oklahoma City Thunder

Last Updated: May 16th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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The Western Conference Finals really didn’t set up the way that most expert NBA handicappers envisioned this year, but there are still definitely two fantastic teams in the fold. The upstart Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks would both make great feel good stories to beat the NBA Finals odds, but only one can actually get the job done and make it to the big show. Check out our NBA odds and Thunder vs. Mavericks predictions for the big time series starting on Tuesday!

NBA Series Prices
Dallas -230 vs. Oklahoma City +190 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook
Dallas -230 vs. Oklahoma City +190 @ SportBet Sportsbook
Dallas -240 vs. Oklahoma City +190 @ Bet Online Sportsbook

Series Trends and History
The regular season this year has been one for the dogs, and one for the roadies, and there is no doubt whatsoever that this series could largely end up being the same, exact way. The Thunder won the one game here in Big D, a 99-95 decision in January, but in comes with a huge asterisk, as Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play in that one. The Thunder, with Dirk in the fold, won both contests in the Sooner State, 111-103 in November and 103-93 in December just after Christmas.

In fact, if you’re talking about a series for the dogs, this is the one for you. The underdog is 9-3-1 ATS over the course of the last 13 meetings. Of course, Oklahoma City is also 9-3-1 ATS in the last 13 meetings, though the two stats aren’t identical to one another. The Thunder have indeed been favorites at times in this series, most notably this past season in the trip to Big D without Dirk in the fold.

The Mavericks have gone 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games overall, and they are coming off of arguably the biggest series in the history of the team, a four game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, the two time defending NBA champs. It is 8-0 ATS in its last eight home games dating back into the regular season, and in games in which Dirk has played at least 16 minutes, the team is 62-19 SU and 50-28-3 ATS, numbers which definitely aren’t ones to frown about.

The Thunder have reached the big time stage in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since they were known as the Seattle SuperSonics (which also surpassed the day in which they were just known as the Seattle Sonics). Behind the oomph of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they have done everything that they have needed to do to keep on keeping on in the playoffs, though it hasn’t always been the prettiest. The Thunder have covered 10 of their last 15 games on the road, and they are sure to be a thorn in Dallas’ side in this series.

Keys to the Series
Key 1: Pace – If you had talked to many NBA betting pundits at the start of the postseason, you would have thought that the Thunder would have needed to really play at a frantic pace to still be alive in the playoffs. They haven’t quite done that this year though, as they are slowing things down and really trying to capitalize on their new found bulk on the inside in trade deadline acquisitions, Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed. Dallas, on the other hand, has transformed itself from an offensive, shoot ’em out team to one that is willing to take its time to run defensive sets and pressure ‘D’. The Mavericks have played devastating defense in this postseason, keeping the high flying Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers down to right around 88 points per game.

Key 2: Pretend Like You’ve Been There – The aforementioned Perkins might only be 26 years old, but he has a bevy of playoff experience that he has brought from his days with the Boston Celtics here to the Sooner State. Sure, his stats haven’t been great (in fact, they’re too embarrassing to even talk about), but we know that he has meant more to this team both on and off the court to measure. Perkins warned his OKC teammates that they hadn’t accomplished anything yet by going up 3-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Grizz. The team came out and got blown away in the second half in Game 6 in Memphis. Now, it’s time for the big time against a big, bad Dallas team that is a heck of a lot more talented than the one on the other side of the court from this past series. If the Thunder seem content with their work, they will be dismissed from the playoffs in relatively easy fashion. They need to play like veterans in spite of the fact that they are all young and most have never been on this stage to succeed.

Key 3: Dirk Must Destroy Bad History in Big D – It’s been pretty well documented just how badly Dirk and the Mavs have struggled in the playoffs in their history. They’ve never won the NBA title. They’ve only been to the Finals once, and in that season, they choked away a 2-0 series lead to the Miami Heat in the finale. Nowitzki says that this team is better than the one that was on the court in ’06 that won it all, but regardless of that fact, there is still a heck of a lot of skepticism in Dallas. Few really believe that this really is the year that things change, especially after so many failed attempts with high hopes as well. Still, owner Mark Cuban and company would love nothing more than to finally give Dirk his ring, and the NBA betting public out there would love nothing more than to cash in with them on that quest as well.

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Posted in NBA Basketball - Last Updated on Monday, May 16th, 2011 @ 6:55 pm (EST)
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