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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Detroit Pistons: 2011-2012 Game 17 Preview; Transition Madness

GameThread at 7, be there!

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (13-3) vs Detroit Pistons (4-13)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena Seasoned by Zatarains, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Detroit

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), 97.1 FM The Ticket Detroit Sports Talk All Day

Enemy Blog(s): Detroit Bad Boys, Need4Sheed, Piston Powered

Over the last couple of weeks, the Thunder have had a "break period" of sorts. All of our opponents have had records under .500, and there's been only one back to back. The team has had plenty of rest, and appear to be getting through their schedule relatively easily.

The rest of January has a similarly relaxing schedule, and that stretch continues tonight against the lowly Pistons. The Pistons are a part of that "lower half" of the East that nobody really gives a second look. They usually consist of a few undeveloped young players, a few over the hill guys, and a bunch of role players. Now, if you don't pay attention to them they can make you pay, as the Wizards did to the Thunder a few days ago. But they usually are stuck in rebuilding mode, unable to make the pieces fit and find defined roles for their players.

The Pistons, much like the Nets, are a team that can kill you from outside. Pretty much everybody on their team, save for Monroe, Wallace, and Maxiell, can shoot the three relatively well. Still, other than Gordon, they don't have anybody who can shoot well from beyond the arc while being well covered, so as long as the Thunder can stay vigilant on the perimeter, it shouldn't be a problem.

However, if Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight can have their way driving into the lane and scoring in transition, then the Thunder could be in some real trouble. They don't drive and get fouled in the sense of Russell Westbrook or Baron Davis, but they are excellent at finding seams that lead to easy scores, especially through a zone defense. Additionally, Greg Monroe can be an effective half-court set player, especially when he plays against teams that can't double-team him effectively. The Thunder should be able to contain him relatively well, but if we get too distracted by the outside shots of guys like Austin Daye, he could have an excellent game.

It's no secret that the Thunder have had some issues over the past couple of games, and tonight should serve as an excellent litmus test for those problems. First of all, the Detroit Pistons are dead last in the league in defensive boards, and rebounds overall. If the Thunder start giving this team repeat offensive opportunities, then we know we have a real problem. Additionally, the Pistons have a pretty middle-of-the-road defense as far as the NBA is concerned. The Thunder can be prone to bad nights offensively, but if they continue to have problems tonight, particularly with the second unit, I'll start getting a bit more worried.

All in all, it should be an entertaining game. There should be a lot of transition, a lot of hawked up threes, and a lot of Ben Wallace. Well, at least some Ben Wallace. Here's hoping for a classy victory.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 98, Detroit 92