|2013-2014 NBA Season|
|March 24th, 2014|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK|
|7:00 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Altitude Sports and Entertainment Network|
|Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM),|
|Injury Report: Kendrick Perkins (Out), Thabo Sefolosha (Out), Jan Vesely (Day-to-Day), Wilson Chandler (Day-to-Day) Danilo Gallinari (Out), JaVale McGee (Out), Nate Robinson (Out), J.J. Hickson (Out),|
|Previous Matchups: Nov 18 (W, 115-113), Dec 18 (W, 105-93), Jan 9 (L, 98-101)|
|Ty Lawson||PG||Russell Westbrook! (Woo!)|
|Randy Foye||SG||Andre Roberson|
|Anthony Randolph||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Kenneth Faried||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Timofey Mozgov||C||Steven Adams|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|100.3 (3rd)||Pace||98.1 (9th)|
|103.3 (17th)||ORtg||107.6 (7th)|
|105.2 (T-20th)||DRtg||100.4 (5th)|
That's the name you've got to worry about tonight. Put simply, he's going to be way too quick for anyone on this roster to deal with one on one, and he's proven as such in previous games. He hasn't had a bad night against OKC this year, logging over 50% from the field twice and never falling below 8 assists.
What can Coach Brooks do to stop Lawson? His best bet is to ask Westbrook and Jackson to not switch on defense. Switching is a part of the Thunder's mantra, but it can get really painful watching Lawson draw a huge defender and blaze past him immediately. Also, it's going to be up to the team to communicate as a whole, and keep their proper matchups in transition.
Really though, this is going to be a tough game. You can pretty much ignore the Nuggets' record, and how well they've been doing recently. Like the pre-gutted Sixers and the Lakers, this is the type of fast-paced lower-end team that's going to exploit the Thunder for all they're worth. The only way they're going to be able to win this type of game is by using their talent to establish a big lead early. Otherwise, the Thunder's defense simply isn't consistent enough to keep the Nuggets from getting easy transition points or wide open threes.
You can also ignore all of the broken bones and strained muscles that ail the Nugget players. Since the Melo trade, the Nuggets have continually been a team with too much depth for their own good. I'd go so far as to argue that every player on their roster could find rotation minutes with about half of the NBA's teams.
As such, I don't even feel like I need to address any of the Nugget players individually, sans Lawson and the now-injured Robinson. Their performances against the Thunder are pretty much random, and whether they do well just seems to depend on whether they're having a hot shooting night or draw the right matchup.
On the Thunder's end, lots of storylines are buzzing with activity. The injury of Perk and Sefolosha had a definite effect on the reliability of this team, and they've had to jump through some crazy hoops to win their past two games. Furthermore, new addition Caron Butler hasn't emerged as much more than a tremendous liability. His three point shooting has been in the crapper, he plays no part in moving the ball, and his defensive effectiveness has been inconsistent. It's not like the Thunder have many other options, though.
Oh wait. Yeah. We're sitting Jeremy Lamb. Until we need him in double overtime. Sigh.
Oh wait. Yeah. We're sitting Perry Jones. Forever.
Is it rookie hate? That would be the easy explanation, but Andre Roberson continues to strut along in the starting shooting guard spot. Really, I don't understand Brooks' decision making. Like, at all. As somebody who's watched this team for years, this is the first time I've simply not understood his line of logic. I mean, I've disagreed with him before, but I've never been quite so....perplexed. I'm super intrigued to see what deck of cards Scotty pulls out tonight, especially when trying to deal with this small lineup.
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant now has 15 technical fouls, and any other infraction would pick him up a one game suspension. Luckily, that garbage resets in the playoffs, but it would still seriously hurt us to lose KD at this stage, even if for only one game. On a more positive note, if KD scores 25 points tonight, he will extend his streak of consecutive games with that total (or more) to 35. That's the same number as his number, and only 5 games away from Jordan's all time record. Holla!
Also, in case you didn't hear. Russell Westbrook is okay. There was determined to be no damage done from the incident in Toronto, and his minutes/recovery will proceed as normal. As far as we know, that plan is 25 minutes per game, and no appearances in back-to-backs. I'm assuming he'll play tonight, but he could very well hold off until tomorrow's matchup with the Mavs.
Regardless of his status, this should be a great game that goes down to the wire. Prepare yourself for a high-scoring zinger, and keep an eye on your nachos.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 109, Denver Nuggets 103.
What do you think of tonight's game? Hit us up in the comments!