2013-2014 Game 69 Preview: Thunder take on the Hot New Raptors

"KNEEL!" - William Bennett Berry

Can the Thunder take down the world's best International basketball team?

2013-2014 NBA Season
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50-18
Won 2

38-29
Won 1
March 21st, 2014
The Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
6:00 PM Central Standard Time
TV:  Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, SNET
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM)
Injury Report: Kendrick Perkins (Out), Thabo Sefolosha (Out), Patrick Patterson (Out), Jonas Valanciunas (Out)
Previous Matchups: The Raps won it, but I can't tell you how because the Toronto Public Library's internet is really slow
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Kyle Lowry
Andre Roberson SG Demar Derozan
Kevin Durant SF Terrence Ross
Serge Ibaka PF Amir Johnson
Kendrick Perkins C Chuck Hayes

Back when the Raptors had to come up with a new name for their team in the early 90s, they made the silly decision of naming their team after a hit new blockbuster movie. Yes, they fully named their team after Jurassic Park. The name was silly, but appropriate. Canada is sometimes known as a country of immigrants, and one without a a super distinct "culture" of its' own. In other words, they like to integrate aspects of other nations, without trying to force their own stamp on everything. That's not a knock on the United States by any means, but it does help you understand as to why they decided to be so esoteric with their name selection.

It also helps explain the state of the Toronto Raptors as a franchise. As a team isolated by political borders, they've always had trouble attracting big name stars to town. Nobody wants to deal with passport issues, and the town is obsessed with hockey. Thus, they've become an ideal destination for international players, and part of their philosophy has always been to integrate a more international style of play.

I feel like that's what coach Dwayne Casey has done with this team. Like a lot of international clubs, their strategy relies on a plethora of different scorers, sophisticated offensive sets, and deft passing. It's a direct contrast to the Thunder, who rely on a couple of select scorers and use a haphazardly random offense that can vary wildly from game to game.

The Raptors used that skilled play to overcome the Thunder earlier this season, and they've very capable of exploiting OKC's lack of speed. If the Thunder are to win this game, they'll have to go small at some point. Furthermore, they're going to have to either force turnovers or score consistently in half-court sets, because the Raptors are going to take it slow and defensive.

Anyway, it should be close, especially with how up and down the Thunder have been lately. Hopefully either Caron or Russ will find their full groove tonight.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 98, Toronto Raptors 96.

What do you think of tonight's game? Let us know in the comments!

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