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Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns: 2010-2011 Game 74 Preview; Slumping Suns Hold On to Slim Playoff Hopes

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

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (49-24) vs. The Phoenix Suns (36-37)

Time: 9:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: United States Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Arizona

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), 620 AM KTAR

Enemy Blog(s): Bright Side Of The Sun, Suns Stufft, Valley of the Suns

Previous Meeting(s): Dec. 19th, Feb. 4th, Mar. 6th (Thunder Lead Season Series 2-1)

While you weren't looking, the Suns went 4-8 since we last faced them. In other words, they were a low, reliable playoff seed into a skidding team. The trades they made mid-season haven't helped out a great deal. And, as Wil Cantrel said in his interview with Dogburt, their recent draft picks haven't panned out. Most Suns fans consider their season to be over, even if the team is giving a good effort.

But, be warned. The Suns do an excellent job of playing to the level of their opponent, and are still perfectly capable of defeating the Thunder, as evidenced by their recent scares of the Lakers and Hornets. As in the past, the Suns still like to run and gun, but they are much more consistent in how they play. They won't have huge runs and droughts like the Golden State Warriors, and are capable of keeping a lead. Also unlike the Warriors, the Suns need an inside scorer to be successful in order for them to have a chance at winning. Marcin Gortat usually plays that role, and Robin Lopez has the potential to as well.

The Suns are also reliant on one of their peripheral players getting hot. Someone like Channing Frye, Grant Hill or Vince Carter. Most of their players are either old or just not that good, so they can't have consistent production every single night.

In order to stop the Suns, the Thunder need to play good perimeter defense. No more rotating around the perimeter for open threes like Golden State was able to do last night, and no easy baskets for Gortat. Also, the Thunder will have to watch out for guys like Lopez and Frye exploiting the slowness of their big men and shooting mid range.

All in all, the Thunder are coming off of a brutal game against the Warriors and playing against a team that has several advantages against them, so it won't be a landslide victory. But the Thunder are more talented, and the Suns are close to resigning to their fate, so I'm predicting a close Thunder victory.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 112, Phoenix 108