76ers vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer
76ers (26-44, 9-25 road) vs. Thunder (40-30, 26-10 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.0 (17th), 76ers – 100.3 (30th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 105.3 (11th), 76ers – 105.5 (13th)
Yes the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to a Kevin Durant-less Golden State Warriors team. Yes, it was once again a blowout after the Thunder lost the 2nd quarter 34-17. And yes, once again, Klay Thompson loves playing in the Chesapeake Energy Arena. And yes, for the second year in a row, the Warriors swept the Thunder in the regular season. All of these things are true.
But don’t let that cloud the fact the Thunder were playing their best ball of the season in the 5-game win streak prior to the Warriors game. Every win streak does one of two things: it either continues or it ends. For the Thunder, unfortunately, it ended against their current rival (the record between the two teams when they meet may not resonate as a rivalry, but the media coverage and build-up says otherwise).
During that 5-game win streak, the Thunder posted a net differential of 13.6. Their current net differential for the season is -0.3. No opponent during that streak scored over 104 points, with two of those teams being held under 95 points. The Thunder won the rebound battle in each of those games, with three of them being by over 10+ rebounds. The bench averaged over 35 points per game during the streak, and the Thunder either won or tied their opponent in points in the paint in 4 of the 5 contests. In short, the Thunder were pretty dominant during that streak and if they can forget their last game, they have a great shot to get back in rhythm against Philadelphia tonight.
Season Series Summary
This is the second and final meeting of the season between the Sixers and Thunder. The last time they met, Ersan Ilyasova was still on the Thunder’s roster (he’s been on both the Thunder and Sixer’s roster this season) and Russell Westbrook had yet to register a triple-double on the season (because it was the first game of the season). The Thunder won 103-97 in that game, needing a monster fourth quarter to supplant the upstart Sixers.
Three Big Things
1. These aren’t your 1-year old child’s 76ers
This 76ers team is scrappy. They’ve won 3 of their last 5 games, and have victories this season against the Raptors, Wizards (twice), Clippers, Heat (during their hot streak), and Celtics. The Warriors needed to double up the Sixers in the fourth quarter a couple games ago in order to come out with a 2-point victory. They do a good job defending on the perimeter and are actually in the top half of the league in defensive rating. Robert Covington is one of the best SF defenders in the league and can defend multiple positions. If the Thunder play down to the Sixer’s record, they could be in for a game, as has been the case the last few times these two teams have met.
2. Protect the ball
The Sixers are very active in the passing lanes, averaging the 2nd most steals per game in the league at 8.5 and the 3rd most deflections per game at 17.7. With the Thunder’s penchant for coughing up the ball, keeping the turnovers to a minimum are a must for controlling this game.
3. Stupid Stats
Over the past few years, much has been made of the fact that the Thunder are one of the worst teams in the league in terms of passes per game. The thought was that the most successful teams have high movement offenses that involve lots of passes to find the open man. The San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors were looked upon as model franchises for the new evolution of the game. Well guess who leads the league in passes per game this season? The Philadelphia 76ers; the same team with the 30th ranked offense in the league.