OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 8 Preview: Trailblazers at the Thunder

Game time tip off: 9:30PM EST

Key Players

  • Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook, who both totaled 28 points, 11 rebounds in game 1.
  • Brandon Roy – 19 points in 47 minutes.
  • Marcus Camby – 12 rebounds in game 1.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge – 22 points last game.

Game preview:

In the first matchup between these two teams, the Thunder had once again fallen behind early, looking completely disinterested.  However, they battled back, which I think presented an early season turnaround as to how they expected themselves to perform against the better teams in the league.  Granted, the Thunder struggled against the Celtics.  But in each game, they battled.  Maintaining a competitive nature throughout a game will not always result in wins against elite teams, but against the 2nd and 3rd tier teams, it is a good way to insure a winning record.

I believe there will be two keys to tonight’s game, one controllable, the other not:

  1. Brandon Roy’s knee.
    Roy clocked in 47 minutes during the Blazers’ loss in their first matchup.  Since then, in a loss to the Lakers and a win against the Pistons, he logged 31 and 21 minutes, respectively.  No team seems to be as collectively snake-bitten by the injury monster like the Blazers.   If Roy can’t go tonight or is ineffective, the Blazers will have a difficult time matching up with the Thunder’s offensive output.
  2. Defensive rebounding.
    I am a broken record here, but when a struggling team comes to town, you have to limit their offensive rebounding opportunities.  Second chance points can ruin otherwise good play.  The Blazers have one of the best rebounders in the game in Marcus Camby, and he will likely be matched up against Krstic and Ibaka.  Camby does not present much challenge offensively, so either guy should be able to check him.  Where the challenge comes from though is in keeping him off the boards.  the Blazers have active bodies in Aldridge, Batum, and Fernandez who can capitalize on those second chance points.

I am looking forward to seeing if the Thunder can maintain their early-game focus as they did against the Sixers.  The Sixers win was an imperfect game, but offered good things on which the Thunder can build.

Westbrook will be matched up against the veteran Andre Miller, who has always had a place on the league both for his strong point play as well as his strong afro.  Miller won’t want to play at the breakneck pace that Holiday did on Wednesday, so hopefully it will be a little bit easier for Westbrook to play at a quick but not fast speed.  He had initiated good ball movement last game, and we will look for that to continue.  Remember, he doesn’t need a gaudy stat line to prove that he distributed the ball.  Good passing begets good passing.  Let’s see everyone get into the vibe.

Last notes:

  • It was great to see Sefolosha get some quality contribution against the Sixers.  His offense can be sporadic, but one thing he can always do is play good defense.  In the last game he tallied three steals in his time on the court.  He could absolutely be a defensive stopper type, given his length and quickness.
  • Durant will likely see a rotation of Camby, Batum, and Aldridge thrown at him to limit his touches.  This could present opportunity for Ibaka on the inside.  It would be great to see Durant get some high-low post play going on with Ibaka and Aldrich.  Anything that puts Durant in a scoring position with options is a play worth repeating until it is stopped.
  • I’m still pushing for James Harden to get into the starting lineup to see how he handles himself.  Hopefully he can avoid the fouls this time out and get into a bit better flow.  Regardless, his outside shot is not yet there; I’d like to see him get into the paint a bit more and see how the defense responds.

Prediction: Thunder by 4

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