This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here. Also, feel free to post your thoughts on any of the wonderful Christmas Day games occurring today.
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The New Myriad, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Entertainment Sports Programming Network, Fox Sports Net Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KRWZ 950 AM
Previous Meeting(s): None.
Two short years ago, a game on Christmas Day would have not been much more than a pipe dream. Even now, it's still odd to think that the Thunder are going to be playing on Christmas Day in a primetime matchup. Okay, sure, it's not on ABC, but the Thunder will still be in the national spotlight, and aside from Lakers-Heat, it's probably the most exciting match of the day.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, the shadow of Wednesday's loss to the Knicks looms over tonight's game. It was one of those leads that seemed to start off small yet end up huge. It wasn't fueled by a short burst for the Knicks. Rather, they dominated the Thunder over and over again, like some sort of perpetual nightmare. Tonight, the Thunder look to avoid a losing streak against the Denver Nuggets.
The main problem the Thunder will face against the Nuggets is that they are a high scoring team. The Nuggets are 3rd in league points per game, and the Thunder's two most recent losses have come against the top 2 (The Knicks and Suns, respectively). In fact, if you go on down the list, the fourth and fifth teams (the Spurs and Rockets, respectively) have both handed us losses, while the sixth team (the Lakers) has not faced us yet.
Below: Why the Thunder Struggle With High-Scoring Teams, Their Chances of Winning, Prediction!
Why is this so? Well, as I've said a million times before on this blog, the Thunder use a trap defense. That is, they try to force turnovers and turn those turnovers into transition points rather than defending shooters well and hoping for the rebound. Additionally, rather than having the entirety of their team be good defenders, they have a select few players who specialize in defense, a la Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison. all in all, it means we work best against teams that rely on certain players to score and whom can't score on a consistent basis. Case in point: Our recent destructions of low scoring Charlotte, Sacramento, and Cleveland. (Full list here.)
Despite all of the above, the Thunder still have a chance of winning this game. The numbers are stacked against them, but the game is at home, the Nuggets still rely on Carmelo Anthony a great deal in order to score, they have had only a 6-5 record in December, and they have tended to struggle against other high-scoring teams as well. Also, Nenad Krstic will be back tonight! No word on if he's starting yet.
Okay, so my reason for the Thunder winning are a bit wonky....but there's no way I can predict the Thunder to lose on Christmas. I mean, it's Christmas! And if there's one day for the cranky analyst in me to take a backseat to the die-hard fan, this would be it.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 110, Denver 108