Oklahoma City is coming off yet another failed comeback attempt and the 76ers are looking to get to .500. By all appearances, this game should should result in OKC’s seventh straight loss and ninth overall. And while I don’t see any reason for the Thunder to surprise tonight in Philly, I do think the team will be competitive for 48 minutes and not slip behind by 20 or 30.
Last night was more of the same. The Knicks overwhelmed OKC and got a nice, big cushion. New York relaxed and the Thunder fought back. I really hope this doesn’t happen again tonight, because it gets kind of old watching a team try and work its way back down 30. In the Thunder’s past two games, they’ve given up 139 points in the first half combined. Unless you’re playing Billy Tubbs on back-t0-back nights, that just shouldn’t be happening.
The Sixers are incredibly balanced scoring with five guys averaging between 10 and 16 points per game. That makes them extremely tough to defend because obviously, you’ve got to guard all five spots.
Likewise, the Thunder’s going to have do something similar to that to keep pace with Philly. Russell Westbrook was great last night, Kevin Durant was his usual self and Jeff Green was solid, but all of it came when the game was all but out of reach. Those three needs to have big first halves and help OKC stay in it going to the locker room. Robert Swift, who had his first start of the season and put up 13 boards, will have to play well in the paint keeping Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert off the glass as much as possible.
One thing we saw though, is OKC doesn’t do well when the opposing team has a shot blocker to control the paint (see: Dwight Howard vs. OKC), and Dalembert can do exactly that. The Thunder’s going to have to hit some jumpshots (I know) and Westbrook will have to make good decisions in the lane when he penetrates and not recklessly challenge every time.
I think there’s hope for tonight. I’m not predicting victory, but I am think this will be a competitive game. Just for our sake, I am hoping for a semi-close halftime score and a chance going into the fourth quarter. We haven’t seen that in four games, so it would be nice to see a competitive game for 48 minutes.