OKC ThunderDome

Beyond…Waaaay Beyond…

Game 22 Preview: Thunder at Bulls

Tipoff at 8:00PM EST

Analysis from Game 1

Game Preview

Key Players:

Derrick Rose: 25.7 ppg, 8.1 apg

Carlos Boozer: 14.0 ppg

Joakim Noah: 15.4 ppg, 12.2 rpg

Thus far this year, post play has been the Thunder’s bane of existence.  Regardless of whether that player is Paul Millsap or Brook Lopez, the Thunder have an uncanny ability to make them look like Moses Malone.

The Bulls appear to be a very well put together team capable of challenging the best of the Eastern Conference, regardless of what happens to the Carmelo sweepstakes.  Are they playing up to snuff?

Check out the Bulls’ stats:

  • Points per game – 101.6 (9th)
  • Rebounds per game – 45.7 (2nd)
  • Assist per game – 21.6 (12th)
  • Points Allowed 98.5 (13th)

They would seem like they’re primed to make a move in the standings.  Certainly, getting Boozer for the first time strengthens their front line considerably.    Even so, with Boozer back they have dropped two of their last three (Celtics, Orlando).  I would imagine they’re chomping at the bits to get in line against the Thunder’s more finesse big men.

What do the Thunder need to do?

  • In the first meeting, Derrick Rose was their star, but tried to do too much and ended up wasting a lot of offensive opportunities.  It would benefit the Thunder therefore to try to get him to do that again.  A PG looking for his own shot means he’s not looking for anybody else.  I wonder if Westbrook throwing down the gauntlet early might get him into a machismo duel.
  • Hit the boards hard.  Noah is one of the league’s best and doesn’t need any plays called to get his points.  He does everything that you would want a PF to do.  It will be incumbent on Ibaka, Krstic, and Jeff Green to keep him away from the rim.  It would be great to see them run Noah through some high pick and rolls to pull him away from his rebounding positions.
  • The Bulls average over 100 per game, but they’re not what I’d call a high scoring offense.  The Thunder need to try to play at their own speed, which is about three notches down from a full run.
  • Playing on the road is all about watching for the home town surge, withstanding it, and then making your move after the home team has spent up their energy.  The way I see this play out over and over again, especially by historically competent teams like the Lakers and Spurs, is that they’re perfectly willing to fall behind by double-digits in the first five minutes.  The home team thinks they’ve got it in the bag, the crowd is loving it, and everyone thinks they’ve floored the champs.  But then, that road warrior team cranks it up just slightly, they get a few stops at the end of the quarter, and instead of a 15 point lead, it is instead eight or nine.  No problem, the home team says, we’ll just repeat the energy.  The only problem is, that turbo boost is gone.  And then they find themselves struggling to hold a five point lead at the half.  The third quarter is played even, and by the time there are only six minutes left in the 4th, the home team is gassed, the home crowd is demoralized, and Kobe is doing his ridiculous jaw-thrusting move. It is mechanical and clinical, and good teams know how to do it.
  • The Thunder can survive poor shooting.  They cannot survive poor effort (See: Toronto).
  • Keep it close.  their track record in the last few minutes of a close game is pretty good.
  • Play up to the competition.  This game is going to be good.
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