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Bet on the NBAThere were no signs of rust among the Mavericks players last night as they poured in one field goal and free throw after another on the way to a 121-112 victory over the Thunder.

The Thunder hung around all night, battling back from numerous 12-14 point deficits, but the Mavericks were firing on all cylinders, with a nearly perfect game from Dirk Nowitzki. There was just no stopping this Dallas team as they took a 1-0 lead on the Western Conference finals playoffs series.

Everyone in the arena had to be awestruck by the play of veteran center Dirk Nowitzki. He made ten of his first eleven shots, missing only three field goals all night. He also set a new NBA playoffs record by hitting 24 free throws in a row. His game-high 48 points were just two shy of his career playoff record, and he got all of his points on only 15 field goal attempts – most of which he made. The Thunder made him earn his points at the line and he did.

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Jason Terry and JJ Barea were also on fire for the Dallas Mavericks. Terry put in 24 points and got some wide open three-point looks. Barea just kept attacking the basket and getting easy layups that OKC just could not defend against. A 13-0 run in the second quarter buried the Thunder, and it was just too much of a deficit to battle back from.

The Oklahoma City Thunder played well in the first and second quarters, going up by 9 points at one time early in the second. But then they went for 6:28 without another basket, during which time the Mavericks scored big. By the time the Thunder put in another basket, they were down by 11 points, and their poor shooting continued the rest of the night until late in the game.

But the Thunder made the game closer by the end of the fourth than anyone reasonably expected them to. Clawing their way back from a 16-point deficit, they got the game to within five points late in the fourth, and were within six with 48.5 seconds left on the clock. Nowitzki's free throws put the game out of reach, however, and the Thunder will have to try to steal Game Two on Thursday night.

The sportsbook NBA odds have the Mavericks as the -240 favorites to win the series over the Thunder. And based on the Lakers series and last night, who can doubt that Dallas is playing championship-level basketball right now? No one could stop Nowitzki last night, and he will be a very difficult matchup for the Thunder throughout the series.

 

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