2010-2011 Game 1 Preview: Oklahoma City vs. Chicago

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

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0) vs. The Chicago Bulls (0-0)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: The New Myriad, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Until the new name is settled, I can call it whatever I want!)

TV: Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, Fox Sports Net Oklahoma.

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), Spurs Radio 1200 WOAI

Enemy Blog(s): Blog a BullBy the Horns

Previous Meeting(s): None.

Step outside. Just for a moment. At first, you will feel the crisp air of the outdoors. Secondly, you will notice that many of the trees have emerged from the Summer half-dead, and many of their leaves are now on the ground.  Then, you will see the pumpkins on other neighbors yards. From these clues, you can only draw one conclusion, but you have to be sure. To investigate further, you depart the house. As suburbia slowly evolves into the urban jungle, you see an unusual amount of cars on the highway. With your curiosity peaked, you follow the cars. They all converge around a gigantic circular structure, and organic fleshy things wearing blue cotton emerge out of the cars. They all enter the place, and you follow, your curiosity unwavering. They all gather in pre-arranged seats, apparently about to witness some sort of event. Extremely tall and fit people emerge from pre-arranged locations and go through a series of rituals. The audience participates as well, and all seem to be having a good time. But then, the main event prepares to begin, and the crowd is in an uproar. You can't believe your eyes, but an old man brings out the orange sphere that you have known all too well over the course of your life. The old man throws up the ball, and play begins. And you relax, because you know that Thunder Season has finally begun.

Below: Analysis, More Analysis, and a Prediction.

Tonight, the Thunder take on the Chicago Bulls, a team that was pretty good last year, but has only gotten better through off-season acquisitions. Who are the new faces? Well, the most recognizable will be former Jazz All-Star Carlos Boozer, who averaged 20 PPG last season. Fortunately, he won't be playing tonight. Other acquisitions include C.J. Watson, a clutch combo-guard from the Warriors who can back up Rose well. Kyle Korver, a NBA journeyman known for his three point marksmanship has also joined the team, as well as Ronnie Brewer, an all-around swingman, and Omer Asik, a experienced center from Turkey who was a large part of their Silver medal run in the World Championships this Summer. Not to be forgotten is Keith Bogans, an average swingman who can shoot and rebound.

How much do all of these players really add? Well, it's pretty obvious that (aside from Boozer) none of them are game changers. Rather, they're the side pieces needed to make a well-rounded playoff team. It's definitely a different philosophy than growing your own players (as Presti does), but it usually works out just as well in the short term.

But the question tonight is how good the Bulls will be without Boozer. He definitely downgrades the team talent-wise, but Taj Gibson has always been a capable scorer, and we all know that Joakim Noah is a capable Center.  Their bench will be more of a question though, as they rely on never-used James Johnson and old man Kurt Thomas.

On the Thunder's side of things, Nick Collison is out for the game, and not much has changed. It is still to be determined whether our new acquisitions will break the rotation, and right now it looks like this year's lineup will look very much the same as last year's.

Also, tonight will be the debut of Malik Rose, former Thunder backup, in the studio as an analyst. Here's hoping he's better than Grant Long.

Chicago Bulls
Bulls
(0-0) 
Matchups
 
Thunder 
(0-0) 

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Derrick Rose
Still Better Than Westbrook

Point Guard

This matchup has always gone Derrick Rose's way, and I don't expect it to work out any differently this year. With Boozer gone, this will be the main matchup again, but it won't be the main source of points for the Thunder.

 

Advantage: Bulls

 4390_medium
Russell Westbrook
Now Without Mohawk

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3746_medium
Keith Bogans
Still Looking For a Ring

Shooting Guard

This is probably one of the most unremarkable matchups in the NBA. Bogans doesn't score a whole lot, so his scoring will be brought down to nil by Sefolosha. Sefolosha might score a few. Yawn.

 

Advantage: Thunder

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Thabo Sefolosha 
Swiss Army Defender

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3824_medium
Luol Deng
The NBA's Fittest Man

Small Forward

Luol Deng isn't one of those guys who gets a lot of press, and he's probably going to settle into being the third scoring option for Chicago this season. But if Durant doesn't wants out, Deng could be torturing the Thunder in the paint. Still, it's pretty obvious who the better player here is.

Advantage: Thunder

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Kevin Durant 
The NBA's Most Obsessed Man

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4631_mediumTaj Gibson 

Scoring Energy

Power Forward

Gibson is a great guy to have off of the bench, but I don't think he's a fantastic starter. But, by the same token, Green always has trouble with bigger PFs, and Gibson is a capable scorer. Expect both to have unremarkable statlines.

Advantage: Push

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Jeff Green
Green Energy

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Joakim Noah
Mr. Comb Back

 

Center

Noah owns Krstic in every way possible but shooting jumpers. Expect him to be the main source of Bulls scoring tonight, even when the Thunder's more defensively oriented bigs come out to play tonight.

Advantage: Bulls

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Nenad Krstic
Mr. Comb Over

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3754_mediumKyle Korver

Will Shoot 3s For Food

Bench & Role Players

There's some question as to who will play on the big man side, but Ibaka, Aldrich, White, and Mullens should be available, depending on who is put on the inactive list. The Bulls are chalk full of swingmen who are of comparable quality to Mo Pete, Cook, and Harden, but they are relatively thin at the big man spots, having only Kurt Thomas and James Johnson. This will lead them to play small, and right into the Thunder's hands.

Advantage: Thunder

1256623106_medium

James Harden
Will Drive to the Hoop For Food

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Tom_thibodeau_medium

Tom Thibodeau
Double T Frenchie

 

Coach

Tom Thibodeau's first time in the limelight, and his starting lineup looks pretty standard. As long as he can find a way to diversify his offense (many of the Bulls players are inside scorers), he should be alright. Meanwhile, Scott Brooks is trotting out the same lineup the Thunder had all of last year. Go consistency!

Advantage: Thunder

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Scott Brooks
Same 'ol same 'ol

images via yahoo.com  

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Other Factors

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Injuries

Carlos Boozer is out with a broken right hand, and Nick Collison is out with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Intangibles

The Thunder have been playing together for eons, while many of the Bulls will be playing with each other for the first time in a regular season game. Also, the Thunder are at their home opener.

Prediction

Normally, this would be an extremely close game. But with Boozer out, the Bulls trying to get used to each other, and the pressure of a fully rowdy New Myriad crowd, the Thunder should cruise to a 10 Point Victory here.

Prediction: Thunder 103, Bulls 93

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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