Last time the Thunder played the Bulls, the Bulls won. OKC tried to pressure Chicago but just ended up encouraging them to pass the ball more. Somehow, a great fourth quarter run from E-Twaun Moore and Nikola Mirotic doing little but shooting jumpers propelled the Bulls to victory in that game. Westbrook was as effective as ever on offense, but the Thudner just couldn't seem to disrupt anything on defense.
Tonight OKC will likely face similar defensive issues. That game was played without Steven Adams, and this game will be played without Serge Ibaka. Both games were played/will be played without KD. The Bulls are still missing Rose, Noah, and Gibson, but they have capable replacements to keep the team going. OKC, on the other hand, doesn't have 3rd string replacements for Adams and KD, and become worse at defending the rim and scoring consistently when playing injured.
Kanter's bad performance last time might be taken by some as a bad sign, but I'm never really worried about OKC's offense. With Westbrook on the floor for 38 minutes, it's doubtful that this Bulls team could outscore us, straight up. But the Bulls are much more capable of winning with mistake-free offense, good rebounding numbers, and a defense that protects the rim. Hopefully the presence of Adams will allow OKC to get a leg up on the rebounding battle, because I'm having a hard time seeing the Thunder win this game otherwise.
But really, this game could come down to fourth quarter management. OKC couldn't manage to hold a big lead the last time these two teams played, and they don't have a lot of go-to options for points when they really need it. 5 points in the final 5 minutes of the last game is very telling, so hopefully Westbrook will be able to find a way to generate points (or at least find another hot hand to help him out) during the clutch of this game.
Prediction: Chicago Bulls 102, Oklahoma City Thunder 99.
What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!
|2014-15 NBA Season Game 66|
|March 11th, 2015|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|7:00 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Entetainment Sports Programming Network, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Prime Ticket|
|Injury Report: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler (Out)|
|This Season's Matchups: Mar 5 (W 108-105)|
|Aaron Brooks||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Tony Snell||SG||Andre Roberson|
|Mike Dunleavy||SF||Dion Waiters|
|Pau Gasol||PF||Mitch McGary|
|Joakim Noah||C||Enes Kanter|
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