Commentary

Who's better: Thunder or Mavs?

Western Conference finalists OKC and Dallas do battle in our head-to-head matchup

Updated: May 17, 2011, 1:09 PM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
Dirk/DurantGetty ImagesKevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki figure to get most of the attention this series.

Throughout the season, we've used this column to dissect the most intriguing individual matchup of the week. But on the eve of the conference finals, we're flipping the script and breaking down the clash between the two teams left in each conference as they battle for a spot in the Finals, seeking to get one step closer to the ultimate prize.

WEST | EAST

Forgive the Oklahoma City Thunder if they act as though they've never been here before because, well, they haven't. So if they push the tempo, throw lobs from half court, chest-bump themselves into euphoria and generally forget that three Dallas Mavericks players have Finals experience, don't be alarmed. That sort of precociousness is what has pushed them this far. But the first two rounds will have been a breeze compared to this latest test. The battle-hardened Mavericks are treading in familiar territory, and nearly half the roster has experience in the conference Finals. The Mavs are focused and versatile, and they believe this is their year. And, oh yeah, they have Dirk Nowitzki.

In what could best be described as a high-wattage generational clash, we preview the Mavs-Thunder showdown to determine who's better.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine