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The barren, slow Thunder take on the deep, fast Nuggets

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The Thunder, with no guards on the bench and only 8 players to speak of, are about to face one of the deepest, most tiring teams in the entire NBA.

This is who's left....
This is who's left....
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2014-15 NBA Season Game 3
@
1-0
(Won 1)

0-2
(Lost 2)
November 1st, 2014
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7:00 PM Central Daylight Time
TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Altitude Sports and Entertainment
Injury Report: Kevin Durant, Russell WestbrookReggie Jackson, Mitch McGary, Jeremy Lamb, Anthony Morrow, Grant Jerrett (Out)
Previous Matchups: Nov 18 (W, 115-113), Dec 18 (W, 105-93), Jan 9 (L, 98-101), Mar 24 (W 117-96)
Probable Starters
Sebastian Telfair PG Ty Lawson
Andre Roberson SG Aaron Afflalo
Perry Jones III SF Danilo Gallinari
Serge Ibaka PF Kenneth Faried
Steven Adams C Timofey Mozgov

So, here's the situation heading into the game tonight....

  • Grant Jerrett had an ankle injury that kept him out of Summer League action. He has appeared in no Pre-Season action and is reportedly still injured, but to what extent is unknown.
  • Kevin Durant announced that he had a Jones fracture in his foot on October 12th, and had successful surgery on October 16th. His projected return is somewhere in the first two weeks of December.
  • Mitch McGary fractured his foot on October 9th. His projected return is November 13th-November 27th.
  • Anthony Morrow sprained his MCL on October 24th. His projected return is anywhere from November 23rd to December 7th.
  • Jeremy Lamb tweaked his back in practice on October 27th, and is listed as day-to-day. He is doubtful for tonight.
  • Reggie Jackson injured his ankle in practice on October 27th, and is listed as day-to-day. He has said that he likely won't play tonight.
  • Russell Westbrook fractured his hand in Thursday night's game against the Clippers. He underwent successful surgery today, and will be out until at least December 1st.

That leaves us with 8 active players. Here's the injuries they have recently recovered from and may currently be playing through....

  • Nick Collison underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on June 19th. He recovered by the end of July, but suffered a sprained ankle on October 5th. The ankle kept Collison out of any Pre-Season action until October 21st.
  • Serge Ibaka had a calf injury during the 2013-2014 playoffs, and saw the issue resurface during a couple games of the 2014 FIBA World Championship in September. He then suffered an ankle injury very early in October, and it kept him out of practice until October 13th.
  • Perry Jones III underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on July 14th. (Yes, the same surgery as Nick Collison.) He didn't officially return from the injury until October 10th.
  • Kendrick Perkins came into training camp with a quad injury. It kept him out of every single pre-season game, only allowing him to return just in time for the season opener.
  • Sebastian Telfair was held out of the Thunder's scrimmage on October 5th due to a quad injury. He would miss October 10th's game against the Dallas Mavericks due to a right thumb strain.
  • Andre Roberson missed practice on October 25th due to an ankle injury.
  • Lance Thomas....as far as I know, is injury-free. Woo!

Yeah. It's gotten pretty bad. If you weren't scared enough by all of the injuries, consider that the Thunder have one point guard listed on the roster tonight. Whenever Sebastian Telfair sits on the bench, Perry Jones or Andre Roberson is going to bring the ball up the floor. At this point, I don't know whether it's better to just switch to an offense that consists entirely of outlet passes.

The situation might be manageable if the Thunder were playing a slow, half court focused team. But they're playing the run-n-gun Denver Nuggets. Don't let the Nuggets' opening night score of 89-79 fool you. They simply endured some atrocious shooting in a game with lots of movement. The Nuggets aren't especially good at forcing turnovers or anything, but I'm expecting them to generate a lot of them by virtue of the fact that they've got players at the proper position. Denver will also be able to get a ton of easy shots in transition, as the Thunder struggle with mismatches and slowfootedness. Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo should have field days, as they run past and stretch the defense, respectively.

What's the good news? Well, the Thunder will implement a pass-heavy, tactically sound offense. Sebastian Telfair isn't a wizard in terms of reading defenses. Sometimes he's so concerned with doing something amazing that he misses simple reads. Even so, his turnover rate is low and he'll rarely bite off more than he can chew. The downside is that Telfair can create absolutely nothing offensively, as his shot is awful. Additionally, Bassy has shown no floater and is too small to do much in the paint. Thus, he's mostly reduced to shuttling the ball around between the other players.

The result is an offense that has to work really hard for a decent shot. Unless it's a blatant run-out, the Thunder don't have a lot of open court options. Thus, OKC will have to make 3-4 passes before anything positive can happen on most possessions. That will take its' toll, especially on a team that will give virtually no rest to their only three available guards.

If the Thunder are going to win this game, they're going to need someone to open up shooting from outside. That person could be Ibaka, who hit two threes against the Clippers and has seen his perimeter shot steadily improve. He still can't dribble, but he can bring other power forwards out of the paint. Collison and Jones also could be decent catch-and-shooters on a good night, and will probably fling a couple of threes each. Telfair will also undoubtedly hurl up some shots off the dribble. Even Roberson will likely shoot a couple of open treys from the corner. None of these options are particularly appealing. But, if we can win the slots and have a couple of these threes go down, then the Nuggets respect our shot, and then you open the lane for Roberson and Thomas gimme points.

If all else fails, we can just go to Kendrick Perkins post-ups and YOLO jumpers on every possession. It's about time he got his chance to be KD!

Prediction: Denver Nuggets 109, Oklahoma City Thunder 93.

What do you think about tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!