OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City's penalty for scuffling down the stretch and getting passed up for the top seed in the Western Conference is a first-round playoff showdown with an all-too-familiar foe toting championship credentials.
When the Dallas Mavericks arrive for Game 1 on Saturday night, it'll be a rematch of last season's West finals dominated by Dirk Nowitzki on his way to his first NBA title.
Many of the faces have changed, at least on the Dallas sideline. Gone are Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic.
In their place is a new batch of role players seeking to terrorize the Thunder again in the Mavs' bid to repeat.
Nowitzki averaged 32.2 points against Oklahoma City in last year's playoffs to outduel Kevin Durant, who just became the seventh player to win three straight league scoring titles.