For starters, playing the Mavs provides serious motivation to the Thunder. These guys know what the Mavs are capable of, so there will be no easing into the playoffs. The Thunder has to start strong. Its defense must be stout. Its offense must be sharp
All of these issues that have come up in the last few weeks? They must be fixed, and the Thunder knows it.
If OKC opened with Denver or Utah, would it be as motivated to kick it into high gear right away?
There will be no doubt with Dallas, never mind the fact that these Mavs are not nearly as good as those Mavs were a year ago.
But wait, there's more benefit to opening with the Mavs.
Once the Thunder beats the Mavs — yep, Thunder fans, I'm going with the hometown team — it will jumpstart a playoff run. Just think of all the emotional rewards of winning this series. Beating the defending champs. Ousting the team that ended your season a year ago. Getting the best of a budding rivalry. Ensuring we see no more shots of Mark Cuban on TV.
This is exactly the series to get the Thunder Bandwagon rolling.
The Thunder has shown it can be the best team in the NBA, that it can win the whole shooting match. And this is just the series to build momentum that will carry them all the way to the title.
Listen, I know talk like this makes some of you nervous. But why? Would you rather be cheering for a team that has little chance of winning a title? Would you rather have a squad with no stars, no home-court advantage, no big-time aspirations?
Of course not.
Jump on this ride, Thunder fans. I'll even be the trail boss on the Thunder Bandwagon. We could make matching T-shirts. We could have a secret handshake. Anything is possible.
Who knows where this could take us? Miami? Chicago? San Antonio? Los Angeles?
Let's start with Dallas, and see where this trail leads.