The Dallas Mavericks were the third-oldest team in the NBA this season and are easily the oldest club still playing in these playoffs. So you know they would love nothing more than to finish off the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games on Wednesday night back in Big D and then sit back and hope the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls keep pounding each other for seven games back East – the Mavs would open the NBA Finals at either Eastern team. The Finals are set to begin a week from Thursday (unless both series end in five games, then they start May 31) and the Mavs don’t want to have to go back to OKC and see this possibly stretched out to seven games.
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So look for them to play with as much urgency as the desperate Thunder. Only two teams have come back from 3-1 deficits in NBA history without the benefit of home-court advantage in Game 7 -- Houston in the 1995 West semifinals and Boston in the 1968 East finals.
Thunder at Mavericks Betting Story Lines
One has to wonder what the frame of mind of the young Thunder will be after perhaps the most epic playoff meltdown of all time. The Thunder were up by 15 with just less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter of Game 4. But then the Mavs went on a crazy 17-2 run that included 12 points from Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 40 on the night. The Thunder severely missed a fouled out James Harden and were turning the ball over left and right along with taking bad shots – did you see that 30-foot effort at the end of regulation by Kevin Durant, with plenty of time on the clock to get closer, that was blocked by Shawn Marion? Durant didn’t score a point in overtime. The Mavs didn’t lead a single time in regulation yet won. That’s astounding. The Mavericks are the only team in the last 15 seasons to win a playoff game in which it trailed by 15 or more points with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder committed 26 turnovers to the Mavericks’ 13. Maybe experience does matter as the Thunder's 22-and-under players -- Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden -- accounted for 23 of the their 26 turnovers. Dallas had three players — Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry (all veterans by the way) — with four steals. Dallas has 40 steals through four games of the Western Conference finals and 26 in the last two games on the road.
Durant just isn’t a clutch player yet in his otherwise stellar career. That miss with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation dropped Durant to 2-of-14 this season on potential game-winning or tying shots in the final 10 seconds. That includes two misses in the playoffs (Westbrook has three). Durant made only four of his final 17 field-goal attempts and committed nine turnovers as Marion was on him like glue.
Thunder at Mavericks Betting Odds and Key Trends
Dallas has opened as a 6.5-point favorite with the total at 198, according to NBA odds. The Mavs are 6-1 at home in the playoffs (6-1 ATS). OKC is 3-4 on the road (3-3-1 ATS).
The ‘over’ is 7-2 in Dallas’ past nine games.
OKC is 4-1 ATS in its past five after a loss.
Dallas is 13-3 ATS in its past 16 as a favorite.
The ‘over’ is 5-0 in OKC’s past five after a loss.
The ‘over’ is 5-0 in Dallas’ past five after a win.
OKC has covered seven of the past nine meetings in Dallas.
NBA Picks: Thunder at Mavericks Predictions
This series could have been a sweep. Oklahoma City’s only victory came in Game 2 in Dallas when the Thunder bench went haywire, making 16 of 23 shots to score 50 points and steal a win. After losing two straight at home, I can see the Thunder putting up a clunker effort like the quitting Lakers did in their elimination game in Dallas in the conference semifinals. Give the points and take the ‘over’.
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