NBA OddsFor as strong as the Oklahoma City Thunder have looked so far this postseason, they have never faced the problem that they are now, as one of the game’s elite superstars challenges their very playoff survival. Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki dropped an incredible 48 points on the Thunder in a 121-112 game one win in which the Thunder simply didn’t have an answer for the All Star, and unless they can find a way to slow him down soon they could find themselves in big trouble for the series very soon with the Preakness Stakes betting race approaching.

While Nowitzki’s size presents an obvious sports betting mismatch for opponents each and every time that he is on the floor, the way he has elevated his level of play this postseason has made him an unstoppable force. Oklahoma City tried in vain to slow him down in the opener, but regardless of who was marking him Disco Dirk continued to dance around them. Nowitzki made 10 of his first 11 shots from the field and finished with a 12-for-15 mark, while setting a playoff record by nailing all 24 of his free throws. The Maverick’s top scorer also made his presence felt on the boards with six rebounds and registered four blocks at the defensive end, easily establishing his self as the most dominant presence in the game. But the statistics weren’t the only story for Nowitzki, as he also really hurt the Thunder by drawing a ton of fouls. That includes five whistles for Serge Ibaka, three from Thabo Sefolosha, and two each from Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, and Russell Westbrook. Nowitzki has never looked so dominant, and until Oklahoma City finds an answer to slowing him down the Mavericks should continue to roll.

The Thunder have more problems than just Nowitzki to deal with, as Jason Terry and JJ Barea came off the bench to combine for an incredible 45 points. Anytime the reserves get going that way team’s should be able to get into the win column, and the space that they gained from Oklahoma City chasing Nowitzki was an added sports betting bonus. The Thunder had no answer off their bench with James Harden scoring 12, but little else coming from anyone else, and the fact that they are losing key battles to do with depth is something that is making another difference.

Unlike in the first two rounds when Oklahoma City had its way with the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies, this opponent has a superstar go-to player and relies on its depth as a secondary option rather than as a difference-maker. The Thunder will go back to work in practice on Wednesday looking for the answers, and until they find a way to at least slow Nowitzki down they will have trouble winning a game in this series. Dallas is firing on all cylinders and the extra week off between series’ has them looking fresh and ready to play, and finally Dirk is getting his pay per head due as the superstar player that he is.

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