Yes, the week we've all been fearing is here. The week where we have to face our four most feared opponents all in a row. And I'm not exaggerating. Aside from the Nuggets, can you name an opponent that has given us more trouble than the Spurs, the Rockets, the Lakers, or the Trail Blazers? I certainly can't.
This is the week that's really going to tell us how the Thunder can fare in a playoff situation. 3 of these teams are fighting for playoff seeding, so they're going to be running on all cylinders. The Thunder are in severe danger of dropping 5 straight by weeks end, and if they do end up doing that, then they'll spend the rest of the season playing catchup, and that's no what you want to happen.
But in the end, these are winnable games, and even though it's possible for the Thunder to go 0-4, it's also possible for them to go 4-0. I'd say a reasonable benchmark is 2-2. If we can get 2 wins out of this, we should be able to hold our ground and challenge for the fourth seed. Less than that, and we start getting into the danger zone of facing the Lakers or Nuggets in the first round as a 7 or 8 seed.
Here's the upcoming matchups, and some quick thoughts on them:
Tonight Vs. San Antonio: We've come close to beating the Spurs before, but they've always out muscled us in the end. The key here will be to get to an early lead. I could write an essay about all of the keys to the game, but it boils down to making a lead and keeping it, because if we're down with 5 minutes or less left, I don't think we'll stand a chance in this one. But given the fact that Tony Parker is out, I think a win can be pulled off.
Wednesday Vs. Houston: The Rockets aren't a great team, but they've beaten us 3 times, all in fairly convincing fashion. The good news is that they've lost a well known Thunder killer in Carl Landry, but the bad news is that they still have Scola and Hayes while having gained Kevin Martin. Kevin Martin has similar characteristics to all of the current Rockets guard who have killed us in the past, except that he's twice the scorer that they are. I don't know about you, but I'm expecting a pounding.
Friday Vs. The Lakers: This one is the biggie. The Ford Center is expected to be packed with die hard Thunder fans and Faker bandwagoners alike. With the Lakers running at full strength and needing to secure their seeding, it's hard to believe that they can be beaten. But they can. The Bobcats downed them with their solid defense on the 5th, and the Heat found a way to outscore them on the 4th. The Lakers are a team with 4 big stars, but past those 4 guys lies a relatively weak team. And if the stars can be held in check (at least somewhat), then the Lakers can suddenly look very beatable. The Thunder have competed with the Lakers before, but I doubt they can win this game in the closing seconds.
Sunday Vs. The Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers are a good team, beating the teams they should. They also have the ability to throw a lockdown defense against the Thunder, and even contain Kevin Durant. I don't know why they scheduled this game for Sunday, because it is going to be ugly, and I would hide the kids. Granted, we have beaten the Trail Blazers once, but they were missing Roy and Outlaw, and now in place of Outlaw, they have Marcus Camby. Camby will provide a huge whallop defensively, while Roy will do the same, except offensively. Given all of the evidence provided, I just don't think the Thunder can win this game. They'll lose, but the Trail Blazers won't score over 95.
I know I said I thought we'd need to win 2 to stay competitive, but I just don't see us winning two. The Thunder will be competitive in all of them at certain points, but if I had to bet, I'd say we only win one against the Spurs. But, that's not important. The only way to find out the true answer is by watching the games in action....and I look forward to wit, either way.
How do you think the Thunder will do over the upcoming "Week of Hell?" Vote in the Poll! Post a Comment!