Sherm started this game preview, but after a half an hour, I’m taking it from here.
When you spend the hours and hours it requires to speak or write intelligently about a team, unless you’re made of clay, an emotional attachment at some level develops. It’s just human nature.
As Sherman wrote in the title, the Thunder’s game today is their first after Andre Roberson’s season-ending knee injury. It hurts. Robes is special, not just to this team, but to Thunder fans and all the writers here at Welcome to Loud City.
It’s official, the tendon ruptured, Robes season is over, and the Thunder are left with no choice but to rally together and push forward. Obviously, that is something easier said than done. As we learned in his recent absence, Roberson was to the Thunder defense what Russell Westbrook is to the offense and if the Thunder have any hope of salvaging this season, it will require a total commitment from every member of the team because there is no way any one player can replace the irreplaceable.
Unfortunately, injuries are a part of professional sports. Although it won’t be easy, the Thunder are left with no choice but to pick up their heads and get back to work and I will be with them all the way. It’s a setback, not a death sentence and I still believe this team is destined for something special. Who is with me?
So let’s begin again...
The Thunder take on the Philadelphia 76’ers tonight...
...at 5 p.m. cst in Chesapeake Energy Arena in front of a home crowd that will, without doubt, give a much-needed boost of love and support for a Thunder team reeling, not just from the loss to injury of a teammate, but a friend.
Look for rookie Terrance Ferguson to start in Roberson’s place with Josh Huestis ready to step in at a moments notice if Ferguson falters or finds himself in foul trouble.
As harsh as it may come across, the Thunder don’t have time to wallow in despair after losing their starting SG and defensive specialist Andre Roberson to a season-ending knee injury the night before. The Sixers are good and they are hungry. They will extend their condolences for Robes’ injury before the game and then will try to deliver the Thunder a 20 point beat-down just like they gave the Spurs at the AT&T Center if the Thunder doesn’t rally quickly and fight back.
The December 15th triple-overtime thriller these teams played in Philly was no mirage. The Thunder currently have the 5 ranked defense in the league, the Sixers are #4. In the month of January, the Thunder are 9 and 3 with a team NetRtg of 8.2. The Sixers are 7 and 2, including two signature road wins against the Spurs and Celtics, with a team NetRtg of 12. “The Process” is working.
JJ Redick is out for today’s contest and that will ease some of the pressure on the Thunder’s perimeter defense, but Redick’s absence didn’t save the Spurs two nights ago.
The key to this game is simple. If the Thunder muster the courage to stand strong and play smart, unlike how they played when Robes first went on the DL, we may see another epic game. If not, the Sixers will roll through town and the Thunder and never look back.
The Thunder’s remaining outside defensive core must play well to allow Steven Adams to focus on Joel Embiid. The Thunder’s big man in the middle is more than capable of containing the Sixers leading scorer if he isn’t forced to pull double duty covering a poor defensive effort on the perimeter.
Who do you think will win?
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