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Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors: 2011-2012 Game 19 Preview; Identity Crisis

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GameThread at 7, be there!

Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (14-3) at Golden State Warriors (6-11)

Time: 9:30 PM Central Standard Time

Place: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

TV: NBA Television, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Bay Area

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KNBR 680

Enemy Blog(s): Golden State Of Mind

It's 2012 and the Los Angeles Clippers are currently 4th in the Western Conference. They have a franchisse centre and point guard, and they have beaten the Lakers this year. Has the NBA turned itself upside down?

Nope, because the Golden State Warriors are still terrible. After the departure of the "We Believe" era players, management made a few power plays, locking up certain players to long term contracts, thinking that the players would develop and spur them to greatness.

It didn't. In fact, about the only thing that's gone right for the Warriors in the past year or so has been an ownership change, from the stingy Chris Cohan to the winning-committed Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. They've made some radical moves so far, like bringing in TV Analyst Mark Jackson as their new head coach, effectively ending the Don Nelson era in Golden State.

But don't let any of the information above sway you into thinking that this is an easy game. Despite their flaws, the Warriors have some serious wins under their belt, having defeated the Bulls, Heat, and Trail Blazers this season.

What's up with that? Why have the Warriors fared well against some good opponents, but hit the dirt against others?

There's several possible explanations. One might chalk it up to the Warriors horrible play at center, as position that is currently anchored down by the shells of Andris Biedrins and Kwame Brown. While the Warriors have been dominated by Howard and Monroe down low, they've also held guys like Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, and Marc Gasol to below their averages.

Could it be their fast-break style? Not really, because Mark Jackson doesn't play the fast break game anymore. The Warriors still rank high in threes attempted and steals, but that's only because their play centers around their guards.

In truth, I think the reason is maddening inconsistency. The Warriors are prone to totally collapse during certain points of the game. Since their style of play relies so much on long range shooting, some nights can be really good for them, but others can be really, really bad. They also rely on different players every night, with 5 guys averaging over 10 points yet still capable of scoring in the single digits.

If the Thunder want to win this game, they'll have to wait for the slump. And when it comes, they need to take advantage, because the Warriors will recover within a few minutes of play and likely re-equalize the game. The Thunder will also have to be careful to keep their offense rolling in the final minutes, as they don't want a repeat of the last time they played the Warriors.

But I'm predicting the Thunder to lose here. The Thunder don't have a legitimate threat at center, and the Thunder have a legitimate Turnover problem, something that the Warriors will eat up right away. Additionally, Serge Ibaka is prone to give up a lot of offensive boards, something that David Lee will eat right up. Lastly, Ellis and Curry have had no problem scoring against the Thunder in the past, and I don't think today will be any different. Oh, and Nate Robinson will be looking for revenge after all of that bench time we put him through.

Prediction: Golden State 107, Oklahoma City 105