OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 20: Thunder at Raptors

Tip-off: 7:00PM EST

Key Raptors:

Andrea Bargnani – 20.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Jose Calderon – 8.4 ppg, 6.1 apg

Key injuries:

Kevin Durant, knee – OUT
Peja Stojakovic – DTD

Tonight the Thunder will be going for their eighth consecutive road win over an Eastern Conference foe.  They will be without Durant.

The Raptors, post-Bosh-acle, don’t appear to be much better or worse off than they were a year ago.  With a losing record in the east,they once again seem bound for the lottery at the end of the season.  However, they have shown some things that do inspire a little bit of optimism.  They already have signature wins this year over Orlando and Boston (sans Rondo).  They play in front of a vivacious home crowd, and the team does have the ability to fill up the box score.  In their most recent win against the Wizards (yeah, but still) they shot 58% from the floor and scored 126.

Keys to tonight’s game:

  • Jeff Green will once again get plenty of offensive touches, and should have similar opportunities given the Raptors’ weak D.  I do hope he tries to emulate the last game, if not in production, at least in variety.
  • Slow it down.  As great as Westbrook has been, he is not a “running” PG like Jason Kidd or Chris Paul.  Westbrook attacks without abandon, but when he gets going too fast, he is prone to mistakes (see a number of 6-8 turnover games this year).  The Thunder have fast break finishers, but they still are at their best in the half-court set when their two big wing guys, Durant and Green, are curling and popping for jumpers.
  • Take the crowd out early.  Against the Nets, the Thunder played sloppily for a quarter and a half before finally righting themselves.  Toronto is a better offensive team, and if given the chance, they have scorers at the ready to push the ball and push the lead. They also have a loyal crowd who will get into it if the game stays interesting.
  • Aside from Bargnani, the Raptors play a guard-heavy offense.  It would be interesting to see if the Thunder try to counter with a Westbrook-Sefolosha-Harden back court.
  • Contain Bargnani.  So far this year, the Thunder have been anemic at dealing with big front courts.  Brook Lopez will never be confused with Tim Duncan, but even he had his way with the Thunder for most of the game.  It appears as if OKC so far has been content to play straight man-to-man in the post, rarely double-teaming.  If Bargnani gets going, it might be good to change that tactic.

And if all else fails, you still have The Guess Who.

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