2012-2013 Game 58 Preview: Thunder Try to Seal Off NW Division Vs. Nuggets

He either has a huge drum in front of him, or the cameraman needs to GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!! - William Bennett Berry

Tonight, the Thunder's newest acquisitions will get their first true test against the Nuggets, who have been red hot since the All-Star Break.

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-15)
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The Denver Nuggets (37-22)
March 1st, 2013
The Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
9:30 PM CST
Entertainment Sports Programmin Network, Altitude Sports 2
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), KZBR 97.1 FM
Enemy Blogs: Denver Stiffs, Roundball Mining Company, Nugg Love
Previous Meetings: Jan 16th, Jan 20th (Season Series Tied at 1-1)
Injury Report: Danilo Gallinari (Probable)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Ty Lawson
Thabo Sefolosha SG Andre Iguodala
Kevin Durant SF Danilo Gallinari
Serge Ibaka PF Kenneth Faried
Kendrick Perkins C Kosta Koufos

Though the Thunder have blown out the Nuggets once this season, I wouldn't expect it to happen again this season. The Nuggets are a team that will run with the Thunder, scoring defiantly from many sources, On both ends, offensive balance and clutch performance is key to any victory.

In the last matchup between these two teams, Oklahoma City was destroyed on the boards and ended up paying for it down the stretch. Both teams saw their fortunes rise and fall pretty drastically in the final minutes, but the Thunder's ultimate failure was their reliance on the crutch of Durant and Westbrook to create the offense. In the blowout win, the Thunder were able to force a lot of turnovers and shot unbelievably well from the field, closing out the tired Nuggets early.

Tonight, I expect it to be a close battle. The Nuggets, though they've made no roster changes, are 4-1 since the All-Star break and appear to have momentum on their side. The Thunder, on the other hand, have added intrigue with the addition of Derek Fisher to the lineup. Fisher's played for the Thunder before, but as I noted in this article, he's never played as a true SG for the Thunder before. Moreover, he's never been paired with Kevin Martin, who looks to be horrible defensively.

At the end of the day though, the Thunder will have to either win the battle in the post or use their athleticism to their advantage. I don't see them being able to force as many turnovers as they did in the first matchup, and there's no way you can defensively shut down the Nuggets. The name of the game is offensive production, and the best way to keep that production going is by taking care of the ball. The Thunder turn it over a lot, so unless they can stay in the rebounding game, the Thunder will find themselves struggling despite having a superior offense.

Also, it's Thunder-Nuggets, so I'm predicting 2OT. Just 'cuz.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Denver Nuggets 114 (2OT)

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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