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 Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Altitude Sports Alternate
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Past Meeting(s): Dec. 14th
Backstory: Last time, Oklahoma City got bested by what was simply a better Denver team. This time, I'm not expecting much different to happen. The Thunder are in the midst of a 3 game losing skid, and the Ford Center is going to be inevitably empty while the blizzard rolls over the metro. Meanwhile, the Nuggets have won 8 straight games, and are rolling to the number 2 seed in the West.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Nene Hilario
Last time, Krstic was manhandled by the stronger Nene, and only managed to get less than a handful of rebounds. Expect the same to happen today with Krstic, but I'm expecting good production out of Collison and Ibaka as they do battle with Nene and possibly Chris Andersen in the paint.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Kenyon Martin
Jeff Green had a great performance on Wednesday night against a smaller team, but tonight it's probably going to boil down to a defensive battle between Green and Martin, with neither able to make much offensive ground.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony
For those of you whom have never listed to the Thunder on the radio, Kevin Durant's least favourite candy is Caramelo. Obviously, this is a knock on Carmelo Anthony, because Caramelo is an excellent candy. Nonetheless, expect a epic, high-scoring battle between these two players. I predict Durant will score more, but Anthony will take better care of the intangibles. Oops, Carmelo Anthony is inactive for tonight. expect a Kevin Durant-fest on the scoreboard!
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Aaron Affalo
Thabo Sefolosha has every advantage here. He can easily close out on Affalo, who has a tendency to shoot, and Affalo is also weak defensively, so he can easily be scored upon. Look for Affalo to get close to nothing, and for Sefolosha to get between 8 and 13 points.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Chauncey Billups
This matchups will be less about scoring, and more about ball movement. The winner will have more assists, less turnovers, and a victory for the team. My bet is on Billups, but Westbrook has been known to surprise us at times.
Battle of the Benches:
J.R. Smith, Chris Andersen (if he comes back from injury) and Ty Lawson are just about the best bench a team could ask for. J.R. Smith was almost suspended from this game for some sort of bench antics, so look for him to come on strong tonight, especially when scoring inside. On the Thunder bench, the thing to keep your eye on are the backup big men, and how they'll fare offensively against the defensively superior Nuggets big men.
Coaching and Intangibles:
I predict a record low attendance at the Ford Center tonight, but the home court advantage will still be there. Nevertheless, the Nuggets have the upper hand, as the Thunder are on a 3 game losing streak, and the Nuggets have won 8 in a row.
If the Thunder can keep the Nuggets from scoring with secondary players like Nene and Smith, then they should stand a solid chance of winning. They'll also have to make sure they have 3 solid go to scorers, as the lack of that against the Bulls was a travesty, and the Nuggets are even better offensively, so it could spell a quick doom for the Thunder here.
Prediction: Denver 103, Oklahoma City 92 Actually, Oklahoma City 97, Denver 93
My least favourite candy is Riesen.
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!