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2013-2014 Game 27 Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Toronto Raptors preview

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Can the Thunder keep the ball rolling tonight against Toronto?

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
2013-2014 NBA Season
Won 1

Won 9
December 22nd, 2013
Chesapeake Arena, OKC
6:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM/640 AM)
Injury Report: none
Previous Matchups: None
Probable Starters
Kyle Lowry PG Russell Westbrook
Terrence Ross SG Thabo Sefolosha
DeMar DeRozan SF Kevin Durant
Amir Johnson PF Serge Ibaka
Jonas Valanciunas C Kendrick Perkins
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.6 (22nd) Pace 96.9 (4th)
104.7 (18th) ORtg 108.5 (6th)
104.6 (12th) DRtg 100.7 (4th)

The Thunder face the proverbial trap game tonight. After last night's big road win over the Spurs, OKC has to be feeling confident about where it stands. Such positioning can grow into overconfidence, and such hubris can break any talented team. The challenges that the Thunder must overcome tonight:

1) Don't lose the rebounding + turnover battle.

Giving up an additional possessions to a weaker team is a formula for disaster, no matter what the talent discrepancy is between teams. The Thunder have been one of the league's best on the boards this year, and they must limit the Raptors' 2nd chance opportunities. Likewise, Westbrook and Durant must be ball protectors. They don't need to crush the Raptors in the 1st quarter, but rather treat it is a 4 quarter game.

2) Maintain high bench play.

The Thunder bench thoroughly outplayed the Spurs last night, and have been doing so against most teams. Reggie Jackson must continue to break down the opposition's 2nd unit and get open opportunities for Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison.

3) Treat the Raptors seriously.

Every team can win on any given night. The Kings can, the Wizards can, and the Magic can. The Raptors can as well, so the Thunder should play with the appropriate level of focus.