Crucial matchups in conference finals

NBA: Game 3 of the Western Conference finals between the Mavericks and Thunder tips tonight in Oklahoma City with Dallas leading 2-1 (9 p.m., ESPN). It's not an exaggeration to say that tonight is a must-win for the Thunder. When a team goes up 3-1 in a seven-game series, it's gone on to win the series 96 percent of the time (192 of 200). Oklahoma City has not lost back-to-back games in the playoffs so far and hopes to continue that trend, though Dallas has won four straight road games. Bench play has been one of the key factors so far: The team with the higher scoring bench has won each of the first three games.

NHL: It's a 2-2 series heading back to Boston tonight for Game 5 after the Lightning stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to score five unanswered goals to win Game 4 (8 p.m., Versus). It's the first Eastern Conference finals tied after four games since 2006. In 2004, Tampa Bay found itself tied with the Flyers 2-2 and went on to win the series in seven games before winning the Stanley Cup. Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas is 2-0 this postseason in the game after allowing four goals.

MLB: It's a limited schedule tonight, but there are a few games and players worth watching. The Red Sox and Indians start their second series of the season (Cleveland swept Boston in April) tonight in Cleveland on "Monday Night Baseball" (7 p.m., ESPN2, Justin Masterson vs. Clay Buchholz). ... Phillies' second baseman Chase Utley expects to make his season debut tonight at home against the Reds (7 p.m., Bronson Arroyo vs. Cole Hamels). ... The top two home run hitters in the majors, Jose Bautista (18) and Curtis Granderson (16), renew acquaintances in the Bronx when the Yankees host the Blue Jays in the first of a three-game set (7:05 p.m., Bartolo Colon vs. Carlos Villanueva). ... The Rangers get two-thirds of their slugging outfield back when Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are activated from the disabled list against the White Sox (8:05 p.m., John Danks vs. Alexi Ogando).

French Open: First-round action continues today from Roland Garros in Paris.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.

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