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2012-2013 Pre-Season Game 4 Preview: Thunder Light Up Tulsa Against New-Look Suns

Does Tulsa love the Thunder? Don't look now, but all 18,233 seats in the BOK center have been sold, despite Tulsa having only 80% of Oklahoma City's population.

Jared Dudley never knew what was coming....
Jared Dudley never knew what was coming....
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

2012/2013 NBA Preseason
Phoenix Suns (2-1)
Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2)
October 19, 2012
The Bank of Oklahoma Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
7:00 PM CDT
No TV, WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1)
Enemy Blogs: Bright Side of the Sun, Valley of the Suns, Suns Stufft
Previous Meetings: None
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Goran Dragic
Thabo Sefolosha (Q) SG Jared Dudley
Kevin Durant SF Michael Beasley
Serge Ibaka PF Luis Scola
Cole Aldrich C Marcin Gortat

Does Tulsa love the Thunder? Don't look now, but they SOLD OUT A PRE-SEASON GAME. All 18,233 seats in the BOK center have been sold, despite Tulsa having only 80% of Oklahoma City's population. Heck, the attendance for tonight's game will be more than the attendance at half of the Golden Hurricane football games.

Honestly, even though I'm a huge fan of having all of the home games in Oklahoma City, I wouldn't be opposed to giving Tulsa a couple of real games, kinda like how the Hornets held a few games in Baton Rouge during their two-year tenure in Oklahoma City. The BOK center is a fantastic venue, and Tulsa fans deserve it.

Regardless, since tonight is a home game, the starters should see a lot of burn so that the fans can witness a victory. And, of course, we'll continue to look at the position battles that are taking place on the Thunder's bench.

Perry Jones III has been on a pre-season tear, looking almost perfect in the three games so far. Scott Brooks has confessed that he will see minutes this season, but they will all be when KD is off the court. This says a lot of things. Most importantly it cuts into the time of Daequan Cook, who saw regular minutes during last season but was limited to token time in the playoffs. It also means that Jones will likely be playing the role of small forward, and continue to operate around the perimeter. Of course, there's always the possibility that Brooks will be loading minutes on Collison and cutting down on those of Aldrich while Jones plays power forward, but it's really too soon to tell. How he continues to perform tonight might sway just how long KD sits this season.

You've also got the battle for the backup point guard spot between Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor. Jackson didn't see time during Tuesday's game, so it's likely that Maynor is leading the battle for that spot. Additionally, you've got the battle for minutes at the backup big spot, but Thabeet didn't see time on Tuesday, so it's likely that Aldrich is well in the lead of that one as well. Lastly, you've got the battle for the 15th roster spot. Everybody seems to have an opinion on this one, with Sherman wanting Rautins, Mayberry thinking that Orton will get it, and others pulling for Liggins. Since Liggins has seen time with the starters, he seems to be the most likely candidate at this point, but hey, the pre-season isn't even half over yet.

The Suns, meanwhile, have pretty much blown up their roster and started anew. In essence, they're still figuring out lineups and who to stick in the rotation, so there will be lots of different lineups and strategies going on. However, the starting lineup appears to be set, so the bench will be getting lots of minutes.

Scola looks to pair with Gortat for the NBA's fiercest all-foreign big man combo (they beat Bargnani and Valanciunas, at least), while Michael Beasley tries to live up to his potential, Jared Dudley develops into a scorer, and Goran Dragic plays the role of Steve Nash-lite. The team hasn't necessarily found an identity yet, but their roster is as deep as any team in the NBA, so if they can fill their roles well, I could see this team winning some games. And how they perform tonight will give us a good indication as to exactly how far they have to go.

Unfortunately, the game won't be televised, so Matt Pinto ahoy! It's either that or making the toll-heavy drive to Tulsa to buy tickets off of scalpers. Oh, woe is us! Unless you live in Tulsa.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 103, Phoenix Suns 91