When the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks square off on Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, one of the two longest active winning streaks in the NBA must come to an end. Kevin Durant and the Thunder have stacked up five straight wins to maintain the best record in the association, while the Mavericks have mounted a climb towards .500 with four straight victories.
The Thunder have been very solid on the road in recent weeks. They've recorded wins in four of their last five games away from Chesapeake Energy Arena, and they will be looking to set strong tone at the outset of their upcoming six-game road trip.
Kevin Durant checks in as the No. 3 scorer in the NBA at 28.7 points per contest -- behind Carmelo Anthony (29.2) and Kobe Bryant (29.7), but he is in the midst of one of the greatest offensive seasons in league history. He owns a 28.9 PER, second only to LeBron James at 30.2 and he has the second-highest True Shooting percentage in the NBA at 65.3 percent -- which means he's scoring points more efficiently than nearly all of his peers.
Over nine games in January, Durant has been even better than normal. He has averaged 29.6 points on 56.3 percent shooting to go with 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists during that span, headlined by a 42-point explosion against the Lakers and a 41-point outburst against the Suns. With all eyes on Durant, it's easy to forget that Russell Westbrook has scored 20+ points in nine of his last 11 games.
The Mavericks have been an unpredictable bunch so far this season. They exceeded early expectations and stormed out to a 4-1 start behind some inspired efforts from O.J. Mayo and then kept the ship afloat to earn an 11-11 mark. Dallas then lost 12 of 14 games to drop to 13-23, but they are on a four-game winning streak at the moment and back up to 17-23 overall.
Time: 9:30 EST.
Spread: Thunder by 5.5.