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Thunder vs. 76ers: Pregame Primer

Thunder vs. 76ers: Pregame Primer



76ers (0-8, 0-3 road) vs. Thunder (5-3, 3-1 home)

TV: FS Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 7:00 PM CST

Offensive Rating: Thunder – 112.5 (1st), 76ers – 96.6 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.9 (18th), 76ers – 110.8 (29th)

(Welcome to the program Alex Roig, who will be helping with the pregame ship from here on out. You can follow him on Twitter here -ed.)

In light of the Veterans Day holiday that just passed, PTSD is not something to compare things to lightly. But to Thunder fans, seeing Kevin Durant grab a leg and wince in pain brought back a flood of emotions that we would as soon want to forget. Luckily, it was just a strained hamstring and the Thunder announced on Wednesday that Durant would be re-evaluated in 7-10 days.

Putting aside the fact the injury is hopefully minor, it is a shame that Durant got hurt. The Thunder seemed like they were starting to get into a nice rhythm on both sides of the court, and had the look of a team that could reel off a lengthy winning streak. The momentum that was building for the past two games now hits a bit of a road bump as the Thunder have to readjust to life without Durant. The readjustment periods and ill-timed injuries were what killed the Thunder’s consistency last season.

This is the first meeting of the season between the Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Thunder swept the season series last year. The second meeting was one of more memorable games of the season last year as the Thunder needed overtime and a monster triple-double from Russell Westbrook (49/15/10) to beat the young 76ers.

The Opponent

The Philadelphia 76ers come into this game winless, at 0-8. In most rebuilds, a team usually gets better after several seasons of high draft picks. Philly, on the other hand, seems to have digressed this season, compared to the two previous seasons. Their high draft picks haven’t panned out and they refuse to sign anything but D-League retreads on to their roster in order to maintain their “precious” cap space. That approach has come back to bite them in the behind this season as injuries have taken their toll on the roster. Their starting point guard is TJ McConnell, a guy ESPN doesn’t even have a picture for.

I like to pride myself in knowing about the NBA as a whole, but I, honestly, have no idea what this guy even looks like. I’m going to refrain from looking him up in hopes that, like parents waiting to see what gender their child is at birth, I’ll be completely surprised. Shooting guard Nik Stauskas seems to have found a home in Philly after a difficult rookie season in Sacramento last year. Power forward Nerlens Noel will be returning from a wrist injury that kept him out the last two games. Center Jahlil Okafor has lived up to expectations in his rookie season, averaging 20.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. Jerami Grant, Isaiah Canaan, JaKarr Sampson, and Hollis Thompson round out the rotation.

3 Big Things

1. Starting Line-Up

In the previous game, Dion Waiters was supposed to check into the starting line-up after half-time. But a case of the bubble guts caused him to stay on the porcelain throne for more time than halftime allowed, so Kyle Singler started for the Thunder instead. If that was any indication for future starting line-ups, Waiter will likely line up with Westbrook in the backcourt, with Roberson taking Durant’s spot at SF. Or Thunder coach Billy Donovan may channel his inner Scott Brooks and start Josh Huestis to not disrupt his rotations.

2. Trap Game Potential

It’s Philly. They are winless. And they are the definition of suck at the moment. But they are still an NBA team, and have the potential of stealing a game if you allow them to. If the Thunder limit their turnovers and play their game, they should easily come away with a victory.

3. Never Forget

Your team is down by 15, at home, in the first quarter to one of the worst teams in the league. This is your first game back from a broken face and you are wearing a stupid Ninja Turtle-y mask. They already say you look like a ninja turtle and now they got you wearing this mask. What the hell were they thinking? You are angry. This team is really trying to run a press on you. This guy is really trying to run with you. You are Moses. The lane is parting. You remember you really hate the mask.