2012 NBA Playoffs: Mavericks Slated To Face Thunder, Begin Series On Saturday

Mar, 5, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Dallas will play Oklahoma City in a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference Finals.

A Dallas loss on the road in Atlanta Thursday night combined with a Denver Nuggets win in Minnesota dropped the defending champions into the 7th seed in the Western Conference.

That means the Mavericks will open their title defense on the road against now three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The series will be a rematch of the 2011 Western Conference Finals, where the Mavericks outlasted the Thunder in a tightly-contested 4-1 series. Tyson Chandler's interior defense and offensive rebounding was crucial in the series, and it remains to be seen whether Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright can fill his shoes over a seven-game series.

This season, Oklahoma City won three of four meetings with Dallas, although one of those wins came on a Durant buzzer-beater.

The opening round game will be on Saturday in Oklahoma City.

For all the latest news and notes about the Mavericks playoff run, head over to Mavs Moneyball while Welcome To Loud City has everything you need to know about the Thunder.

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