2012-2013 Pre-Season Game 6 Preview: Thunder Take Practice Test Vs. Bulls

You don't want to see Luol Deng in Beast Mode. Trust me. - Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

I know we're all sick of the Pre-Season already, but I do have some good news. This game will be televised, and, for about two or three quarters, it will be a nice test of how far the Thunder have come over the Summer.

2012/2013 NBA Preseason
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Oklahoma City Thunder (3-2)
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Chicago Bulls (3-2)
October 23, 2012
The United Center, Chicago, Illinois
7:00 PM CDT
NBATV, WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blogs: Blog A Bull, By the Horns
Previous Meetings: None
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Kirk Hinrich
Thabo Sefolosha SG Richard Hamilton
Kevin Durant SF Luol Deng
Serge Ibaka PF Carlos Boozer
Kendrick Perkins C Joakim Noah

I know we're all sick of the Pre-Season already, but I do have some good news. This game will be televised, and, for about two or three quarters, it will be a nice test of how far the Thunder have come over the Summer. The starters are all fully recovered from their injuries, and the Bulls are the most serious test the Thunder have faced so far. If anything, think of it as a way to find out who's going to be doing well for the Thunder this season, and a way to impress your friends when you have the inside info on opening night.

Of course, the Thunder don't have Derrick Rose, but this team is still pretty darned good. During their most recent game, against the Timberwolves, they left their starters on the floor for more than 30 minutes of the game, basically treating it like the regular season. Since the team will have to get used to a new point guard for the majority of the season, it seems like a smart move. Kirk Hinrich was a capable point guard of a lower playoff seeded Bulls team back in the day, but the roster has almost totally changed since then, and he has more talent around him.

Besides, this Bulls team doesn't make its' hallmark offensively, but defensively. They run a slower paced game, allowing few fast breaks. Boozer, Noah, and Gibson make for a strong paint trio and a huge part of the reason the Bulls led the league in rebounding last year.

Their main weakness appears to be their bench. Outside of Gibson, it doesn't look like anybody's going to get more than 15 minutes a game. Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed, former Thunder players, are in this group. In a series of cap-saving measures, the Bulls had to disseminate last year's aptly named "Bench Mob" and go with cheaper options.

On the Thunder's side, you know the whole song and dance. We're still looking at the battles for the backup center spot and the backup point guard spot. Aldrich and Maynor appear to have the advantage over Thabeet and Jackson, but I wouldn't count anybody out just yet, as players are getting time in different games.

We're also looking at the battle for the 15th roster spot, and in the public eye, it appears to be between DeAndre Liggins and Daniel Orton, with Liggins holding a slight advantage. Those cheering for Liggins want an insurance policy if Sefolosha goes down, and those cheering for Orton don't trust Thabeet and Aldrich. Hollis Thompson and Andy Rautins looks like outside shots at this point, but they do have their supporters.

The last remaining question will be how long Scott Brooks plays his starters. He favored them lately in a recent home stand, but since this game will be away from home, he might find himself sorting out the backup situation rather than pandering to hometown fans. Who knows?

Prediction: Chicago Bulls 97, Oklahoma City Thunder 93

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