Philadelphia 76ers (5-13, 2-8 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (9-8, 4-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 104.4 (23rd), 76ers – 105.3 (20th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.7 (4th), 76ers – 110.7 (26th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.1 (18th), 76ers – 91.3 (23rd)
View from the enemy: Philadunkia
The Sixers are 5-13 on the season. By all accounts, a mediocre to poor team. And that terrifies the crap out of me. What have we learned about the Thunder after a month? Say it with me class. Games like this are not a given.
A win and you feel good because you’re 10-8, you took care of business and you’re on to the next one. A loss and you feel like you’ve taken a step backward. For whatever reason, OKC hasn’t been as good at home as we hoped, but games like this are ones you absolutely shouldn’t drop at home.
Some good news though: Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison and Shaun Livingston are all available to play tonight. That’s a huge boost for the Thunder’s depth. I wouldn’t bet on Livingston seeing extended minutes, but even 5-10 will be a big help. And Collison and Krstic will really help a depleted front line and also Krstic will also help Russell Westbrook as well.THE MATCHUPS
The Sixers have lost seven straight coming in and are coming off a backbreaking 104-102 loss in Dallas Monday night. Obviously the big matchup is Andre Igoudala against Thabo. Igoudala is the Sixers main scoring option and of course, Thabo is OKC’s lockdown guy. You’ve got to love it when it works out like this. Howeva, Thaddeus Young is a true three but has been playing power forward as Elton Brand has come off the bench. Philly does a lot of mixing and matching with its lineups, so it’s kind of difficult to figure out who is going against who. Igoudala could be guarding Kevin Durant and Thabo could be on Willie Green. Hard to really know honestly.
It’ll be an all-UCLA point guard matchup with Jrue Holiday taking on Russell Westbrook. They never were on the same team at UCLA, but I’m sure they’ve worked out a bunch together. I really like this head-to-head for OKC mainly because Holiday is a rookie and Westbrook has torched rookies so far. Sam Dalembert will look to control the paint and might alter some of Westbrook’s driving, but having Krstic back is huge because it can suck Dalembert from the paint because of Nads’ jumper.
Other than Brand coming off the bench, Philly gets basically no production from there. Rodney Carney, Jason Kapono and Royal Ivey haven’t done a ton this year and with some of the depth returning to OKC, I’ve got to think the Thunder has an advantage there.
Oh yeah, Allen Iverson. I have no clue what the plan is for him tonight. From what I’ve heard, Iverson hasn’t joined the team yet, and will probably wait to make his debut at home Monday night. But I really don’t know for sure. So yes, we could be treated to the return of AI. Which would be neato. But like I said, it’s unlikely. (UPDATE: No Iverson until Monday.)
Philly is one of the worst defensive teams in the league and Oklahoma City is of course one of the best. And you know what they say about defense. Actually, what do they say about defense? This is a key game because this would put OKC back to two games over with the Celtics coming to town Friday. You don’t want to have to beat Boston to keep your head above .500.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go O-K-Ceeeeeeeeeeee.