For the first time all season, our boys will head off to do battle, knowing that Durant will not be playing. He may be listed as day-to-day, but coming off what appears to be a "Severe" ankle sprain, I certainly wouldn't expect him to play on the very next night. In fact, I'm willing to guess that he may be out of the lineup for at least a week (maybe longer), just to make sure everything is on the up and up. With the Thunder record near the worst in the league, don't look for the Thunder to mortgage their future to get a win. The good news is that the Thunder, without KD last night for all but a few minutes, played one of its very best defensive games of the year. They dominated a playoff team for nearly the entire second half before the Mavericks came storming back with a huge run. Then, despite the huge meltdown, they followed that by producing a miracle comeback orchestrated by RW(0h!) and the Thunder, to force overtime. It might have resulted in a loss, but it definitely should set Thunder fans at ease, knowing that the team responded so well to playing Durantless.
Its hard to say which team is more desperate for a win tonight, as they both carry long losing streaks into this game. For the Grizzlies, they've dropped their last 6 games, but 5 of those were on the road. Real sore spot, however, in that set of games, was a home loss to the leagues very worst team, the Sactown Kings. For the Thunder, its been an equally unimpressive stretch, a 7 game losing streak, also with 5 road losses.
So one thing is clear, both teams are ready for a win, the question is who wants it more? I can't comment on whether the Grizzlies play hard night in and night out, but I think as Thunderfans, we can all agree, our team plays hard, and refuses to give up until that clock ticks all zeroes, each and every night. I've never found so much joy in watching a team that has 13 wins, after 50+ games, and I probably never will again. The reason of course is because this young team gets after it, and they are competitive every single game. Its pretty crazy that the team went into a game against the leagues best team, the Lakers, earlier last week, in the midst of this losing streak, and we all thought we had a great chance to win that game, and we did. That is something special, despite the losing, this set of circumstances is very rare.
It should be a pretty fun game to watch tonight, two young teams, with some nice young developing talent, getting after each other. I'm actually kind of excited to see what Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook can do without Kevin Durant on the floor. Its a chance for them to really blossum and learn to carry a bit more weight for this team. Not to say, I won't miss Kevin Durant, because who wouldn't miss him? Dude is sick amazing, but at the same time, with him out of the lineup, it gives the rest of the team a chance to step up, and learn to shoulder some of the weight that KD carries each and every night. Should be fun.