We head into OKC tired and beat up. On the other hand, OKC is healthy and rested. If it were a game on national television, then I could see Pop resting Tim and Tony. Since it isn’t, they will probably play.
1. Song: ‘Cruel‘ by Calexico
Bart highlighted Calexico a few games ago so I thought I’d chime in with one of my favorite songs by them. I like ‘Cruel‘. I really like a lot of songs from Calexico, including when they work with Iron and Wine. If this one doesn’t do it for you, then give ‘Deep Down‘ a listen. If you still aren’t getting it, then you can move along. Deep Down is where we will have to dig to be in this game, if we don’t, it will be a Cruel outcome.
2. Key Match Up: ??? on Kevin Durant
I guess Danny Green will get the call to start on Durant. I’m really not sure who on the roster could possibly also get duty covering him. Durant runs around a lot of screens, and is really good scoring off them, so I can’t see Boris covering him the way he got assigned to LeBron. I expect Pop will use this as an opportunity to get Danny a LOT of time on Durant.
I could also see Pop putting Nando on him for a while. Nando has the basketball IQ to get around the screens and stay in the vicinity.
3. Keeping An Eye On: Ibaka
One of the main reasons the Thunder had to ship out Harden was because they had signed Ibaka to a big extension. Lord knows Ibaka certainly gave us problems in the WCF last year. I’m very curious to see how Ibaka performs and whether he can dominate the paint.
I especially want to see how Ibaka shoots from 18′. He’s the only Thunder big who can shoot at all from outside of 2′ so he needs to hit those shots. Just like Tim needs to for us.
4. Bold Prediction: Thunder By 26
We have several things going against us right now. One is obviously health. Two is obviously the schedule. The third is that we haven’t laid an egg recently. You know, the big stinker. We’ve only done it once so far and that was at the Clippers. I think tonight will be the second. I also think Pop will be more than willing to pull the plug early on the starters since we play tomorrow at Denver.
Odds and Ends
Manu is out. Kawhi and Jack are both supposed to be out another game or two. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pop play one or both of them over the next couple days.
Tim has looked pretty gassed the last couple games and I can’t imagine he’s really got his mojo back since Saturday. I really expect to have a short leash on Tim. He can’t burn Tim out trying to fight through these injuries. Tim’s minutes aren’t up a crazy amount, but he is shouldering a lot more of the load offensively and that is extra wear and tear. It’s more bumps, more bruises, and more banging on the joints.
The Thunder are the best 3-pt shooting team in the league. We have moved up to 5th. Keep an eye on which team is getting the uncontested 3s.