The Thunder might have wrapped up the home portion of the schedule last night with a terrific home win, but its no rest for the weary as they head right on up to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks tonight. It will be the first of three final road games as the Thunder close out their inaugural season in Oklahoma City. There definitely won't be very many eyes on this game tonight as its pretty inconsequential for all parties involved, and for that matter, pretty much everyone else in the league. The only consequence to be head in this one at all, is the Thunder getting a win and moving their win total 1 game higher, which could take away some of their chances in the NBA draft lottery, depending on their final two games, and how Memphis and Minnesota finish out the season. Memphis is 1 game ahead of the Thunder in the win column, and the T-Wolves are 2. I don't think anybody out there in Thunder land is going to complain too much about getting a win though, especially on the road. I know I won't.
More importantly than all of that is getting some revenge tonight. What revenge, you might ask? I know, its hard to even remember the last time we played these guys, much less remember how that game went, until you realize which game it was. These two teams matched up in the Oklahoma City Thunder's first ever regular season game at the Ford Center, way back on October 29, and the Bucks spoiled the first game in the history of the franchise by winning 98-87. During that game, it was a trio of Bucks doing the damage against the Thunder defense, Richard Jefferon, Charlie Villanueva, and Michael Redd all had 20 points in this one. Jefferson and Charlie V also combined for 20 rebounds. On the flip side, no Thunder player managed to score more than 13 points (Westbrook & Weezy), and Kevin Durant had a pretty bad shooting night and only scored 12 points. Tonights game will definitely be a lot different than that first game, but will the result be any different?
It definitely should be. The Buck come into this game playing even worse than the Thunder were playing over this past month. Since pulling a major upset over the World Champion Boston Celtics, they've been beaten 9 times out of their last 10 games, including their last four straight. When you look at those 10 games though, they are chalked full of teams that would beat the Thunder as well, from the Lakers, to the Magic several times, but more recently, they even lost to the Grizzlies, at home. For the Bucks, they'd better home they win tonight, because if they don't, their likely done with their winning for the rest of the season as they play host to the Magic, and then go on the road to Indiana to finish the season.
Some good news for the Thunder heading into this game is that two of the guys doing the damage in their early season win in OKC, won't be playing tonight. I'm talking about Andrew Bogut, and Michael Redd. Bogut has been out since January 31st with a back ailment, and Redd suffered a season ending left knee injury just a few games before that. So without those two guys, the Thunders defensive focus will likely be on Richard Jefferson and Charlie V. Durant will likely be matched up against Jefferson, so that should be fun to watch. It would be nice to see the same kind of defensive effort that we saw from this team last night, which was easily one of the best of the season. You'll also get a look at former Sonic Luke Ridnour tonight at some point when he comes off the bench, so you can see the guy they decided to trade in favor of starting Earl Watson.
The game tips off about a half hour later than our usual start times, and will be a KSBI game tonight. So for me, yeah, I'm dreading this game as its another standard definition for sure game. Sometimes, even on the road, I get this glimmer of hope that it'll just show up on the FSO HD Channel, even though its not listed (like last night, but that was a home game, and I knew it'd be on for sure), but when it comes to games on KSBI, I know have NO SHOT at that being in HD, and have to worry about Cox Tulsa not even broadcasting it all. The guide, does indeed list it on channel 3 for those of us in the Tulsa area, but hey, its said that before, and then not been on, so I'm not going to hold my breath. Also, don't forget to head over to Brew Hoop for the opponent's perspective.
Saturday, Apr 11, 2009, 7:30 PM CDT
The Bradley Center