Time: 6:30 PM Central Daylight Time
Place: The American Airlines Arena, Dallas, Texas
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Previous Meeting(s): None
It’s been 207 days since we last saw the Thunder. Tonight they’ll begin the shortened season facing the same team, on the same floor, where we saw last season’s run end. Expectations couldn’t be higher this year for the Thunder, and despite returning almost every member of last year’s roster, we still have many questions entering this year. Will James Harden be promoted to the starting lineup? How has Kendrick Perkins' game improved now that he’s slimmed down and had an offseason to rest his knees? Will Russell Westbrook improve his shot selection and overall efficiency?
One of the big stories out of the summer leagues was Kevin Durant’s improved ball handling. Tonight we’ll see how he can transitions his game from the practice floor to an NBA team. If Durant has improved, and is able to create more opportunities for himself, it could be a long season for NBA defenses around the league.
The Mavs have lost Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea, who both caused problems for the Thunder in the post season last year. Dirk was unguardable throughout the post season last year. It will be interesting to see how the Thunder plans on addressing him this season.
With this game being meaningless, we’ll likely see extended minutes for players such as Cole Aldrich, Byron Mullens, Reggie Jackson, and recently acquired Lazar Hayward.. It will be interesting to see how the Thunder use Reggie Jackson this year, if Harden is starting, the Thunder may rely on Jackson to be an offensive weapon off the bench.
I think the Thunder will have the incentive to show they’ve improved over the last year, and for a pre season game, that might just be enough to give them the win.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 91, Dallas 82.