The Oklahoma City Thunder head into tonight's game coming off what I could only call the worst loss of the season. Sure there have been a lot of bad losses this season, but considering how much better this team is now (as compared to earlier in the year), and the fact that it happened at home, I think I'm justified in calling it the worst loss of the year. If you missed the game and want to subject yourself the misery I was experiencing after the game, you can read about it in the game recap from Friday night.
The Pacers are heading into tonights game coming off of a 5 point loss in San Antonio. Before the loss to San Antonio, the Pacers had turned things around after a 5 game losing streak, and picked up 4 wins in 5 games. During that 5 game stretch they notched wins against the Bobcats, Heat, Wizards, and Chicago Bulls. Some good news for Thunder fans is that only one of those games was won on the road, against the Bobcats.
A big part of the Pacers recent turnaround can be attributed to Danny Granger. Since returning to the floor for Indiana, he's been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to scoring. After the Pacers lost the first couple of games after he made his return, they have bounced back and rattled off 4 wins in 5 games before the loss on Friday. Over their last 5 games, including the loss Friday in San Antonio, Granger is averaging 31.4 points per game. For the season he is averaging 25ppg, 5rpg, and 3apg. He's clearly returned to the Elite level he was playing at before injuries began to plague him during the middle part of the season. With the way LeMarcus Aldridge dominated on Friday night, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about Danny Granger tonight.
If the Thunder are worried about what Granger might do tonight, the Pacers should certainly worried about stopping Kevin Durant. Durant is not only coming off one his worst offensive outputs of the season, but is heading into a game against a team that he showcased one of his best. Way back on November 10th, Durant dropped 37 points on the Pacers in a losing effort. So he should be highly motivated after his and the teams extremely poor performance on Friday and have the confidence to put up big numbers knowing that despite losing to Indiana earlier in the year, he was able to get the better of them as far as his personal offensive output is concerned.
The lone bright spot on Friday night was the performance of Shaun Livingston as he made his Thunder debut. The numbers are going to knock you off your chair, but if you watched the game you know how well he played. He passed the ball extremely well, although his teammates had a tough time turning those passes into points. He also shot the ball extremely well, hitting 5 of 6 on his way to 10 points. As far as the knee goes, its still hard to tell where he is at, one thing I loved seeing was him mixing it up in the lane a few times, and seemed to be getting the better of the defender each time he did so. With Kyle Weaver getting called back up, his minutes aren't likely to be as high as they were on Friday (27), but I look for Shaun to continue to take advantage of the time he does get. D.J. White also got called back up, and could make his Thunder debut tonight as well.
For the opponent perspective, head on over to Indy Cornrows and check out their game thread (preview) which should be up sometime early this morning. Indy Cornrows is the owner to one of my personal favorite blog names and site logos. I don't know why, but I crack up each time I see the name pop up on my twitter, or anytime I happen upon the site and see their logo. Good Stuff.