- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Coach Rick Carlisle will join an exclusive club with his next win, which will be the 500th of his career. Only 27 coaches in NBA history have reached that milestone.
It won’t be easy for Carlisle to make it 28 this week.
The Mavs face three opponents with winning records this week, including two of the Western Conference’s top five teams. Here’s a quick look at the Mavs’ competition this week:
Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m. Monday, Chesapeake Energy Arena: The 35-12 Thunder are in a slump of sorts, losing four of their last seven games, with all the setbacks coming on the road. It’s awfully tough for road teams to win in Oklahoma City, however. The Thunder are 14-1 at home this season. The Mavs have been surprisingly competitive against the defending West champions this season, losing to OKC in overtime in both of their meetings. NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant averaged 46.0 points in those games, including a career-high 52-point performance Jan. 18 in Dallas, featuring 21-of-21 shooting from the free throw line. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who made headlines last week by throwing a temper tantrum during a timeout, is one of only two players to rank in the NBA’s top 10 in scoring (22.6 ppg) and assists (8.3 apg) this season.
Portland Trail Blazers, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, American Airlines Center: Ex-Mavs assistant Terry Stotts has done a terrific job during his first season as Portland’s head coach, but the thin-benched Blazers might be running out of gas. Portland (24-23) has lost eight of its last 12 games to fall out of the West’s top eight. One of their wins during that stretch was a controversial 106-104 victory over the Mavs last week, when LaMarcus Aldridge hit a buzzer-beater after a charge call on O.J. Mayo that the league office later admitted was wrong. Aldridge earned his second straight All-Star bid, averaging 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. He’s the headliner on a heck of a frontcourt that also features center J.J. Hickson (13.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and do-it-all small forward Nicolas Batum (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.1 bpg). Point guard Damian Lillard (18.4 ppg, 6.5 apg) is the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, but he’s been outplayed by Darren Collison in both Mavs-Blazers meetings this season.
Golden State Warriors, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines Center: The Warriors (30-17) have morphed from a perennial lottery squad into a team that looks like it has the potential to do some playoff damage. All-Star power forward David Lee leads the league with 31 double-doubles, averaging 19.4 points and 11.1 rebounds. Guard Stephen Curry is the best player who didn’t make the All-Star team this season, putting up 21.1 points and 6.5 assists per game. Both Mavs-Warriors games this season have gone down to the wire. Golden State won in overtime Nov. 19 in Dallas, and the Warriors squeezed out a 100-97 win in Oakland last week, when Curry and Dirk Nowitzki sat out due to injuries and Carlisle criticized the officiating after a critical no-call with six seconds remaining.