2013-2014 Game 82 Preview: Thunder hope to prove their mettle against Pistons

Oh Hai KD! - Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Two seed ahoy!

2013-2014 NBA Season
Pistons_medium
@
Thunder_medium_medium
29-52
Lost 3

58-23
Lost 2
April 16th, 2014
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
7:00 PM Central Daylight Time
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Detroit
Radio: WWLS 98.1FM OKC, 97.1 FM The Ticket
Injury Report: Russell Westbrook (Questionable), Josh Smith (Questionable), Will Bynum (Out), Chauncey Billups (Out), Josh Harrellson (Out)
Previous Matchups: Nov 8 (W, 119-110)
Probable Starters
Rodney Stuckey PG Russell Westbrook
Brandon Jennings SG Thabo Sefolosha
Kyle Singler SF Kevin Durant
Greg Monroe PF Serge Ibaka
Andre Drummond C Kendrick Perkins
2013/14 Advanced Stats
97.4 (11th) Pace 97.9 (9th)
102.8 (20th) ORtg 108.0 (7th)
107.2 (25th) DRtg 100.8 (5th)

The last day of the NBA season is a completely unpredictable animal. No one knows who's going to play who, or who's going to try to beat who. Games that have playoff seeding or lottery seeding on the line are deliberately and obviously tanked, while the fan base is distracted with the allure of the playoffs.

Over the past few years, the Thunder have been able to use this day as one of rest and relaxation. Guys like KD, Russ, and Ibaka generally don't play much, while some of the more unfamiliar faces on the bench got extended burn. Tonight, the Thunder will need to assure themselves of a victory, as a loss could drop them into the 3rd seed and a much more intimidating matchup in Golden State.

The Pistons, on the other hand, are finally putting the capper on the Joe Dumars era. Dumars was the one responsible for building the 2004 Championship team, as well as other strong playoff contenders.  However, his star has faded significantly over time. This year, the team's failure to produce wins with so much talent was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Detroit can expect a full-on rebuild before next year, and I doubt that many players will remain. Tonight, they won't be much of a threat to win. The Pistons are 4-13 over their past 17 games, and could stand to increase their lottery chances should the Kings beat Phoenix. The incentives are so direct that it's hard to see either team screwing this up.

Obviously, the players never play to lose, and I'm sure that Mo Cheeks wants to prove something against his old boss, Scott Brooks. Furthermore, all three of Detroit's currently effective scorers (Jennings, Monroe, Drummond), have seen success against OKC in the past. But even if Detroit is at full strength, they're still likely going to struggle from three. Plus, Ibaka is quick enough to easily run around Drummond for a few easy points.

So, again, this game shouldn't be too terribly exciting to watch. The motivated Thunder should be able to put this game away within 2-3 quarters, unless their interior D happens to break down. Then, hopefully, we'll get some last glimpses of Jeremy Lamb, who will inexplicably spend most of the Thunder's playoff run on the bench. Bitterness aside, it'll be cool to see some of the team's less notable faces getting burn again.

Also, fun fact: The Thunder have not lost to the Pistons since December 26th, 2008. It's the second-longest win streak that the Thunder have against an opponent, with the longest being against the Sixers. The Thunder last lost to them in November of 2008.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 100, Detroit Pistons 99.

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

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