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Game 23 Preview: Oklahoma City at Denver

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: The Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Altitude Sports

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)

Enemy Blog(s): Denver Stiffs, The Nugg Doctor, Roundball Mining Company

Backstory: After enduring a brutal loss to Cleveland, the Thunder look to bounce back with what would be an extremely major win against the Nuggets. Most would call this game inconsequential, but when you look at the fact that Dallas is coming up and the fact that 3 losses in a row would put us back at .500, the game suddenly has meaning.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets are in the midst of what could become their best season ever. After last year's surprise trip to the finals, it's no surprise. They rely on their extremely proficient scoring and a deep bench to knock out their opponents. And with recent losses against Charlotte and Detroit, there's no way the Nuggets will have the luxury of overlooking the Thunder.

Below: Matchups, Prediction

Matchups:

Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Nene Hilario

Nene has this matchup, hands down. He'll overpower Krstic in the lane, and I don't think Krstic will get many opportunities for jumpers.

Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Kenyon Martin

Jeff Green faces yet another matchup against a more physical center. Kenyon Martin has lost a lot of his athleticism though, so it's not too far out of the realm of possibility that this could be the matchup where he breaks the trend.

Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony

Lots of scoring, lots of scoring. Oh my.

Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Aaron Affalo

Affalo is a 3-Point Specialist, and Thabo Sefolosha closes out well against shooters. Expect him to have the upper hand, especially against a role player like Affalo.

Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups is one of the best scorers, game managers, and defenders in the NBA. He'll undoubtedly use his Better Basketball powers to dominate Russell Westbrook in every facet of the game, no question.

Battle of the Benches:

The Nuggets bench is deeper, and more talented by far.

Coaching and Intangibles:

The Nuggets are at home, have arguably the better coach, and really need this win in order to keep contending for the second spot in the West. I'd say almost everything is in their favour, especially since the Thunder are on the tail end of a road back to back.

Bottom Line:

This game is going to rest on whether Jeff Green can overcome Kenyon Martin, whether Russell Westbrook can have a decent night against Chauncey Billups, and whether the Nugget bench can be kept at bay. A lot of things have to go right for the Thunder to win, and I just don't see it happening.

Prediction: Nuggets 117, Thunder 98

How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!

And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I might be by during the game to drop my thoughts as well. Go Thunder!