This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Records: The Philadelphia 76ers (33-30) vs. The Oklahoma City Thunder (39-23)
Time: 6:00 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Place: The Wells Fargo Center (Spectrum II), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia
Radio:WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), Sportsradio 610 WIP
Enemy Blog(s): Liberty Ballers, Sixers4guidos, DepressedFan
Previous Meetings: Nov. 11 (Thunder Lead Series 1-0)
The answer to the question above is hard to determine.
After an atrocious 3-13 start, the 76ers rebounded like nobodies business. It wasn't a huge run they took, but they have played over .500 ball, and they have beaten formidable opponents, like San Antonio. Much like Atlanta, the 76ers thrive on defense, but they're wholly capable of outscoring bad opponents. They also can look to many different sources for scoring each night, as six players on the roster average 10 PPG or more.
But, while this team is good, they're not great. The usually lack the star power to get them through the clutch, and are prone to bad quarters that can lose them games. They also lack size, scoring power, and depth in the paint, playing only two true big men (Brand and Hawes). Their guards will get their just due, Brand is their only real force down there, and if he gets shut down, it means bad things for their offense. The same is true defensively, where they'll have to play small in the paint fairly often, and rely on Hawes, who is terrible defensively.
Meanwhile, the Thunder are coming off of a terrible loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder had been on a good streak of wins before that though, so there shouldn't be a morale problem against the 76ers. We played the 76ers during their early season slide, so it's hard to determine how much the team has improved since that point. The game will likely go between phases of high scoring and big droughts for both teams, depending on how hot certain players are. But I tend to think the Thunder have the tools to outscore the 76ers should it become necessary, and the Thunder's defense in the paint will help to easily shut down some of Philadelphia's scorers.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 105, Philadelphia 97