ANALYSIS: For the Thunder, it's Harden, Derek Fisher and Daequan Cook. For the Mavs, it's Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter. Of that group, Beaubois is the biggest wild card. He can heat up in a hurry and, if hot, could make Thunder fans have flashbacks to J.J. Barea last season. But inconsistency has been an issue with Beaubois. He's averaging a career-high 8.9 points but is shooting just 42 percent. Harden's versatility, Fisher's experience and Cook's sharpshooting should be enough to give the Thunder the advantage.
NICK COLLISON/NAZR MOHAMMED VS. BRANDAN WRIGHT/IAN MAHINMI
ANALYSIS: Brandan Wright and Ian Mahinmi have youth and athleticism on their side, which actually could give the Thunder fits. But Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed have enough brains and brawn to possibly tilt the edge in the Thunder's favor. To fully capitalize on their advantage, though, Mohammed and Collison must be able to hit open jumpers and win the battle on the boards. Mahinmi and Wright are both solid offensive rebounders, and the Thunder can't allow second-chance points to the Mavs.
ANALYSIS: Carlisle has an NBA championship, two additional trips to the conference finals, six 50-win seasons and nearly 500 career victories under his belt. Brooks is gearing up for just his third postseason. Game 1 on Saturday will be Carlisle's 100th playoff game. It will be Brooks' 24th. So there's no doubt which coach has the advantage from an experience standpoint. But Carlisle also is considered a mastermind strategist whose schemes can change entire series'. Brooks will have his hands full.
CHESAPEAKE ENERGY ARENA VS. AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
ANALYSIS: The Thunder went 26-7 at home. The Mavs went 23-10. Both won on each other's court in last year's Western Conference Finals, but Dallas is a much different team from a year ago. The Mavs finished the regular season just 13-20 on the road and lost twice in OKC, albeit by a combined six points. The Thunder, meanwhile, notched a nine-point win in Dallas in early February.
ANALYSIS: The truth is neither team finished the season strong. Both limped into the postseason having lost seven of their final 14 games. Against playoff teams in that stretch, the Thunder went 0-7 and the Mavs went 1-6. Dallas lost four games by a combined 13 points, though, and three of those defeats were in overtime, two coming on the road against playoff teams. The Thunder appeared to mentally check out of the season during the home stretch, going 3-3 at home in the final six while struggling mightily to maintain a defensive disposition.
ANALYSIS: The addition of Derek Fisher on the Thunder, coupled with the loss of Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler for the Mavericks, has helped Oklahoma City narrow the game in overall playoff games played by both rosters. The total now is Mavs 634, Thunder 557. OKC's figure includes Eric Maynor, who is lost for the season. Take away his 23 playoff games and the Thunder trails Dallas by an even 100 games. Nearly 70 percent of the Mavs' playoff experience is found in four players: Terry (83), Marion (92), Nowitzki (124) and Kidd (142). Fortunately for Dallas, that's the foursome that will be relied upon to take the Mavs as far as they can go.