The Thunder return home to the Ford Center tonight after a road trip in which the Thunder won one game and suffered 2 losses. It was a road trip that saw the return of Kevin Durant, which came in the final game of that stretch, before heading back home. He lead the team in scoring with 22 points, but the Thunder faded toward the end of the game after a nice start, in the loss the Phoenix. Its not going to get any easier tonight as the San Antonio Spurs come knocking. The Spurs come into this one pretty hot, having won 4 of their last 5 games, with the lone loss coming to the Los Angeles Lakers. This will be the first of 3 games against the Spurs over the next 30 days, after only playing one game against each other all season, a 109-104 Spurs victory in mid December.
One thing the Thunder still have going for them in the momentum department is their 3 game home winning streak. In their last 3 home games, the Thunder have won games against the 76ers, Wizards, and Mavericks. The Mavericks win, of course, being the most impressive of the 3, but if Oklahoma City can find a way to win tonight, it would definitely surpass that victory. In fact, it would probably be the most impressive victory in team history when you consider the Spurs overall record, and they way they are playing coming into the game. It would also mark the first ever time the Thunder have won 4 games in a row at home.
Accomplishing all that is much easier said than done, and if the Thunder are to get the win tonight, they will need a big night from Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison inside. Tim Duncan comes into the game averaging 20 and 10, and could wreak havoc inside all night unless Collison and Krstic can step up to the plate. I'd actually like to see Collison get the start and bang him around a little to start the game. Send the message early, and then sub in Krstic to try and pull him away from the basket. Keeping Duncan off of the boards, and away from the basket will be the top defensive priority tonight.
Manu Ginobili, who has been out of the lineup since early February will not be playing tonight. He was participating in shoot arounds last week, but apparently has had a setback, and was feeling some soreness after the shoot around. While that's a plus for the Thunder, he hasn't play for over a month anyway, and that hasn't slowed the Spurs down one bit. In his absence, greater focus can be paid to Tony Parker, and Roger Mason Jr. With Durant back in the lineup at small forward, look for Thabo to get the nod at shooting guard again, and more than likely will be guarding Mason. Russell Westbrook will need to bring his A game defensively to keep Tony Parker from getting into any kind of rhythm offensively.
After the Spurs leave town, we'll have the Bulls and Jazz later on in the week. It'll be nice to have a 3 game week when the team will be home for every game. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Although beating the Spurs might be asking a lot, the other two games are certainly winnable games, especially while playing at home, in the Ford Center. So if the Thunder can find a way to win tonight, they'll have shot to do what would have been considered inprobable just a few short months ago, win 6 consecutive games at home. Lets get Loud City Rocking tonight to try and help our boys go out there and get a huge upset.