Game 18 Preview: Oklahoma City vs. Philadelphia

This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: The Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Philadelphia, NBATV

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)

Enemy Blog(s): Liberty Ballers, Sixers4guidos, DepressedFan

Backstory: The 76ers are a surprise dissapointment among all of the good surprises that have happened this year. Someone has to fall, right? Granted, Elton Brand and Louis Williams have been injured....but that's only been recently. The bottom line is that they lost Andre Miller. And with him, they lost the glue that held the team together. Even in the latest 2 point loss to the Mavericks, the team had 4 more turnovers than assists. That isn't a recipe for winning, and it's bad news for a team that thought they could make the playoffs. Indeed, in the last two years they have made the playoffs, but it looks like they'll have to do even more post-Allen Iverson rebuilding. And no, getting Allen Iverson back doesn't count!

Meanwhile, the Thunder are a shade over .500, and they're looking to keep it that way. They've taken care of business against teams like the 76ers in the past, and the game is at home, so things are looking up. Still, injuries to Nick Collison (possibly out tonight), Kyle Weaver, Kevin Ollie, and Shaun Livingston haven't helped matters, so it remains to be seen whether they have the depth of talent to win this game.

Below: Matchups, Prediction

Matchups:

Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Samuel Dalembert

Luckily, Nenad Krstic will be back tonight, along with a possible chance of Nick Collison. The thunder will need all of the help they can get, because Samuel Dalembert is a mean machine in the post, along with being the 2nd greatest basketball player ever to come out of Canada. I'd expect Krstic to be able to score, since both Dalembert and Brand are immobile centers, but I'd also expect Dalembert lay the smack down in the post.

Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Elton Brand

Yet another mismatch. Jeff Green will have to make sure to stay out of foul trouble, and Elton Brand will have to make sure to guard Green on the perimeter. Expect Green to have the upper hand if he can stay out of foul trouble.

Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Thaddeus Young

Heh, good luck Thaddeus. He'll have a better 3 Point percentage than Durant, but not much else.

Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Andre Igoudala

This is yet another tough matchup for Sefolosha, as Igoudala is the primary scorer of the 76ers. Still, he won't walk all over Sefolosha, like Ariza did. Rather, I think Sefolosha will be able to shut him down in some cases and force turnovers.

Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Jrue Holiday (Possibly Willie Green)

I don't think either one of these guys is any better than Westbrook. Willie Green is a scoring-type bigger guard, and Jrue Holiday is still a Rookie, with not many stats to his name. This is a real opportunity for Russell Westbrook to shine, get those assists, and score well.

Battle of the Benches

I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief if Nick Collison gets to play tonight, as he'll help out a lot down low. Still, despite all of their badness, the 76ers have a solid bench, with young life-long backup Center Jason Smith, 3 Point Sharpshooter Kapono, and solid scoring guard Willie Green. But Royal Ivey sucks. It's not a bench that blows you away with depth, but they don't really take a huge hit in talent when their backups are on the floor, and they all have clearly defined roles. Their bench gets the win over ours, because I'd say Kapono and Green pretty much own their equivalents on our team.

Coaching and Intangibles

The 76ers have just signed Allen Iverson, so the team might go into "cruise control", as they have some sort of savior coming to the team on Monday. On the other hand, they might be motivated to perform well before he gets there, but that's something I'm doubting. On top of that, they've lost 7 straight, and are away from home. The intangibles are definitely on the side of the Thunder.

Bottom Line

The real danger of the 76ers is their big post guys. If they can dominate inside, and out-rebound us, then we might have a game on our hands. Yet, if they just let Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic nail mid-range jumpers all day, then this could very easily turn into a blowout.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 100, Philadelphia 86

I haven't predicted an over 10 point victory since the Kings game....let's hope I haven't jinxed anything.

How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!

And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I'll be in the Ford Center cheering the team on, but I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. Go Thunder!

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