Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Jersey Nets: 2011-2012 Game 16 Preview; Let the Recovery Begin!

GameThread at 7, be there!

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (12-3) vs New Jersey Nets (4-11)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: The Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), WFAN 660 AM

Enemy Blog(s): NetsDaily, Nets Are Scorching, Brooklyn Bound

The Thunder have had time to sleep, eat, and get prepared for tonight's matchup against the Nets. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook has been served a contract extension, and a loss against the league's worst team has the Thunder hungry to get back on track.

Much like the Wizards, the Nets sit deep in the doldrums of the East, languishing with a 4-11 record and a roster that meshes young and old talent that doesn't necessarily fit together. Unlike the Wizards, they have an established All-Star in Deron Williams, and face a imminent move to Brooklyn. They've had to play 10 of their first 15 Games on the road, and all of their losses but two come against teams over .500. Compounding their problems has been a slew of minor injuries. Only Anthony Morrow and Shelden Williams have played in all 15 games this season.

But, the most important question is, "How seriously do we take this team?" After the triple overtime madness we endured against them last season in New Jersey, it's easy to say that this team is a threat. But the Nets do have several factors going against them.

Below: Where the Nets Lack, Where the Nets Are Good, Four Players Named Williams?, Prediction!

Brook Lopez, who has performed excellently against the Thunder in past encounters, is out until March. Additionally, the team is without Shawne Williams and Damion James, leaving them pretty darned thin in the forward spots. Shelden Williams is the only backup they play currently.

Additionally, their roster is pretty much without a true Small Forward. They've stuck DeShawn Stevenson there, but for the most part they play either small or big. It can be worked to their advantage, but not having anybody to guard Kevin Durant but an out-matched Stevenson or someone too small/big for the position could be a huge detriment to their team.

The Nets also have a possession problem. They rank near dead-last in terms of field goals attempted and total rebounds, while ranking pretty high in Turnovers and low in free throws attempted. The Nets just aren't very good at getting the shots they need when they need them, making them prone to getting destroyed by first half runs from the other team.

Now, before you accuse me of bashing a bad team, I know there are ways for the Nets to win. If the Nets can get MarShawn Brooks and Anthony Morrow going from three point range and successfully stop the Thunder from driving the lane, the Nets will run us over. The Nets are perfectly capable of destroying the Thunder from three point range. And when the Nets start scoring from out there, it opens things up for guys like Kris Humphries and Deron Williams, who can score on you down low.

But honestly, the areas where the Thunder have been lacking this season aren't things that the Nets have. They're abysmal at rebounding, which is how the Thunder get into most of their problems. They win games by outscoring their opponent, and the Thunder are much more potent and reliable offensively. And, as I said before, they just don't have an answer for Kevin Durant. This should be a relatively easy win. SHOULD be.

Lastly, I'd just like to make a note stating that the Nets have four players who have a last name starting with W on their team, and all of them are named Williams. The Thunder once had a similar arrangement, except that we had five of them and they were named Westbrook, White, Weaver, Wilcox, and Wilkins. Wanna know how many games we won that year? 23. Looks like it's a bad year for the Nets. (:-P)

Prediction: Oklahoma City 97, New Jersey 86

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