After losing a couple of home games against struggling teams, the Thunder take to the road tonight for a two game away stretch against two surging teams: the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs. Both teams are 8-2 over their last ten games, and each will present a unique challenge for the Thunder to attempt to overcome.
Tonight's game is in Dallas, so we'll focus on that one. The Thunder will be without Chris Wilcox who dislocated his left ring finger in the game against the Grizzlies. Wilcox had been the starting center, but expect to see Nick Collison move back into the starting lineup. Collison has contributed ten or more points from the bench over the past three games and looks to be regaining his old form. Hopefully that will continue and he'll prove that he's ready for "prime time" if Coach Brooks reinserts him into the starting lineup.
Although they've been finding quite a bit more success, the Mavericks have also been suffering from a "Jekyll and Hyde" identity crisis similar to the Thunder's. Some games they show up and play like one of the NBA's best. Other times they are very fortunate to have a lot of talent on their roster and are able to scrape out a win with a sub-par performance. To a certain extent, they almost seem to play to the level of their competition. In the past two weeks, they played strong against the Spurs and the Suns (dominating the Suns, actually), and yet barely beat the struggling Clippers and Bobcats.
Hopefully for the Thunder, the "Hyde" Mavericks show up tonight, and OKC will have the opportunity to stay in the game and maybe even steal a win. Since the Mavs have been winning their poor performance games recently, they haven't received the reality slap-in-the-face of losing to a weak team. The Thunder are in the right position to give that slap. All they have to do is avoid a "Hyde" performance of their own.