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,
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Backstory: This is the space where I tell you how the other team is doing. I can summarize how the Pacers are doing in one word: Terrible. Ever since they traded and got rid of the "badly behaved" players, they've been flat out bad. The loss of Danny Granger this season hasn't helped, and aside from him, the Pacers are full of mis-matched role players. Murphy, the scoring and rebounding machine that can't play defense. T.J. Ford, the Point Guard who can score, but not beyond the line, and assists minimally. Mike Dunleavy, Mr. Triple Singles. The bench is full of cast-offs and rookies. There's no way this team will make the playoffs without a complete gift of a player or severe re-tooling. The Pacers pretty much locked themselves into a box with the long-term contracts of Dunleavy, Murphy, Ford, Foster, and Tinsley. Unfortunately, that box failed, and thy'll need to wait for those contracts to expire before they make any progress.
Meanwhile, the Thunder are coming off of a tough, tough loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Facing Indiana is almost a gift after the tough loss, as the Thunder can take their time to rebound against this easy opponent. They did recently beat the Magic, but I wouldn't take that as a warning, I'd just take it as reason to make sure Roy Hibbert doesn't explode, which means less Krstic, if he can't score well enough.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Roy Hibbert
This matchup is a bit of an enigma. You'd think that Roy Hibbert was capable of feasting upon Krstic, but on the other hand, historically, he's done well against large, immobile centers, such as himself. Given the evidence, I'd predict an average game for both.
Jeff Green does badly against big forwards, but Troy Murphy might as well be no one at all. His defense is pretty much worthless, so while his double-double is guaranteed, I'd expect Jeff Green to have a big game as well.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Danny Granger
It's an intriguing matchup, but you have to lean towards Durant.
Dahntay Jones is a driving guard, so he won't be affected very much by Thabo's defense. Expect an average to good game from him.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. T.J. Ford
T.J. Ford used to be considered a rather good guard, but he's fallen to average in recent times. Russell Westbrook has been on a hot streak, so I see no reason why T.J. Ford should be the one to stop him. Westbrook all the way.
Battle of the Benches:
The Pacers will rely off of Dunleavy's bench scoring, and we'll get to see Earl Watson again. Jeff Foster will continue his run of being completely and utterly average. Other than those three, there's not much to note. I'd say Oklahoma City has the upper hand, because our talent is better at every position.
Coaching and Intangibles:
The Pacers are 2-2 in January, but one of those wins and losses came against the Timberwolves, negating all potential momentum. We're 1-2 in our last three, so I'd say the Thunder don't have much momentum, either. But, we're at home, so the advantage is on the Thunder's side.
The Pacers generally have low scoring games, but we don't have a great defense for their better scorers, so I'll venture this one will be in the hundreds. As long as our big three can score well and/or Krstic and Harden give a significant amount of help on the scoring side of things, this should be an easily won game.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 110, Indiana 102
Welcome Back, Earl!
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!