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Thunder Look To Pick Off From Where They Left Off Before The All-Star Break Versus Mavericks

Posted by Craig Parsons on 2/12/2015 8:57:48 PM

It took a while for the Oklahoma City Thunder to get rolling as injuries and inconsistent play have taken their toll on a team that was considered among the favorites to win an NBA title right up until the moment that Kevin Durant was injured. Durant and Russell Westbrook have both been in and out of the lineup this season and while even the casual basketball fan already understood the impact they have on the Thunder’s chances it was still tough to see how badly the team struggled without either one or both of their two superstars. Oklahoma City certainly answered the bell in their final game before the All-Star break as Durant and Westbrook paced their way to a 105-89 statement win over a pretty good Memphis Grizzlies team and now coming out of the All-Star break the Thunder will look to pick up from where they left off.

Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder

Thursday, 8:00 PM ET

Durant scored a game-high 26 points, Westbrook was right behind him with 24, and it seemed like Oklahoma City absolutely dominated Memphis defensively as they held them to just 37-percent shooting including 16.7-percent from beyond the arc. Players like Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Anthony Morrow, and Andre Roberson aren’t going to put up dominant scoring numbers but if they can play good defense and allow Durant and Westbrook to take care of the offense then the Thunder will be in good shape. Next up is a date with a Dallas team that hovered around the .500 mark over the final 10 games before the All-Star break and has really struggled against playoff teams this season. Oklahoma City won’t enter this game in a postseason position but a win will vault them over the Phoenix Suns in to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Pick: Oklahoma City

San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers

Thursday, 10:30 PM ET

The jury is still out on the defending champion Spurs even though they have proven their critics wrong time and again and even though Gregg Popovich is coming off his 1,000th career win as a head coach. Consistency and health will be the key for San Antonio the rest of the way as they look to climb the Western Conference standings and they have an excellent opportunity to do exactly that coming out of the All-Star break. The Clippers are just one half-game up on the Spurs for sixth in the Western Conference and while they have been dominant at home the loss of Blake Griffin played a big role in holding them to a .500 mark over their final 10 games before the All-Star break. Griffin will miss at lease the next three weeks after having surgery to remove a staph infection and Los Angeles will certainly miss him in this game as they try and slow down San Antonio in what could end up becoming a rare lopsided loss at home to open the final stretch.

Pick: San Antonio

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