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Game 78 Preview: Oklahoma City vs Denver

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Records: Denver Nuggets (50-27) at Oklahoma City Thunder (48-29)

Time: 8:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: The Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722), Altitude 2

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

Enemy Blog(s): Denver Stiffs, The Nugg Doctor, Roundball Mining Company

Previous Meeting(s): Dec. 14th, Jan. 29th, Mar. 3rd

For Matchup Analysis, go here.

Can you feel that in that air? Yes, it's the stinging feeling of defeat. And it's going to be looming over everyone's heads tonight in the Ford Center. But, if the Thunder are ever to succeed, they're going to have to shake it off and just ball.

And wow, what a team to "shake it off" against. The Denver Nuggets are easily the worst possible opponent we could be facing at this point, and it's a stinging reminder of how we could be in the division lead right now.

Nevertheless, a win here is possible, and it's almost necessary to keep out of the dreaded 8th place death spot against the Los Angeles Lakers. How can it be done?

1. Kevin Durant will have to do more than negate Melo by getting roughly the same points as he does. In truth, he'll have to outscore Melo by 5 or more to have a significant impact. This means playing above-average defense, and it will be a very difficult thing to do.

2. Green and Westbrook will have to at least equal their season average in points.

3. Kenyon Martin, Nene, and the Birdman will have to combine for less than 30 points.

4. The Thunder will have to slow the pace of the game significantly to get it into their favour, or find some newborn offensive flow that they haven't had all season.

5. James Harden will need at least 10 off of the bench.

I know the points above are simplistic and Grant Longish, but in truth, it's all about individual matchups. Can KD outscore Melo? Can the Thunder big men avoid having a pourous interior defense? Can Sefolosha or Affalo amount to anything? Can Russell Westbrook in the PG battle? Who will step up off of the bench for either team?

There's usually specific weaknesses and strong points to certain teams, but the Nuggets just seem to own us in every aspect of the game. A win is possible, but I'm not very optimistic. I mean, a win after that OT debacle in Utah would be huge, but it's just not very likely, with jet lag and everything. Thus, the analyst in me has to predict a loss.

Prediction: Denver 123, Oklahoma City 102