The Thunder's season comes down to this.
A preseason dark horse to come out of the West, Oklahoma City fell at home in Game Three to the Mavericks, and trail the series, 2-1.
Another home loss in Game Four would probably doom the Thunder.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, have to feel good that they regained home-court advantage. Dallas was able to hold off the Thunder despite Dirk Nowitzki having a subpar game.
After Nowitzki's fantastic Game One, he continues to be the most important player on the court. The Thunder have had some success, though, with Nick Collison defending the 7'0 sharpshooter.
As vital as regular-season scoring champion Kevin Durant is, the main player to watch for Oklahoma City is Russell Westbrook. After sitting out the fourth quarter in the Game-Two victory, questions have surrounded the point guard, and his ability to create for his teammates.
The Thunder rely on Westbrook's athleticism, but he needs to do a better job distributing the ball, and take smarter shots.
In Game Three, the Mavericks got a strong performance from veteran forward Shawn Marion. Primarily used as a defensive player this season, Marion proved he still has a knack for scoring.
While Marion over-achieved in Game Three, the Mavericks have two major weapons in J.J. Barea and Jason Terry. Both guards have a way of going on scoring runs, and the Thunder may not have the defense to contain both players while Nowitzki is on the floor.
This is desperation for the Thunder. They arguably have the best fans in sports, and the best scorer in pro basketball in Durant, but the other pieces need to be in play if they hope to stretch the series past five games.
PREDICTION: The Thunder defense, aided by the boisterous home crowd, put together a better effort in Game Four. Nowitzki and Durant will each have big scoring games, but will cancel each other out. The Thunder victory will be due to a strong performance from Westbrook.
SCORE PREDICTION: Oklahoma City 107, Dallas 101