Denver Nuggets (21-12) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (FOUR-29)
Friday, January 2
Oklahoma City, OK
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
View from the other side: Roundball Mining Company
For just the fourth time this year, Oklahoma City will have a chance at a winning streak. And while it’s a small chance as OKC takes on one of the West’s best, it may actually be a better one than the previous three times.
What? Why? Am I crazy? Hello? Because against Golden State, the Thunder just looked different. For once, the veterans that were supposed to do something, did. Chris Wilcox had a huge game. Earl Watson was productive. Then Jeff Green and Kevin Durant made the tag-team combo they finally were supposed to. OKC executed and played like the team we expected to see all season. A team that was surely going to have its lapses and play some bad basketball in stretches, but would always be in the game and win a few here and there.
It’s not like anyone is predicting a win tonight. It’s just that after Wednesday’s win, I think the mood and feel of the team is finally turning over. We’re starting to get to the point where you could see OKC shocking anyone — especially at home. The Thunder played the Cavs tight. They took Detroit to the wire on the road. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that the Nuggets will walk over OKC. Now, let’s not get this confused. I’m not saying OKC WILL win. I’m just saying it’s no longer crazy to say the COULD.
And a win over Denver would be nice. In the Thunder four wins, the teams are a combined 38-91. The closest to .500 out of OKC’s four victims is Memphis, who is 12 games under the line. But while a win isn’t out of the question, the real goal is to continue to play sound basketball and just hand tough. This isn’t like the game against the Warriors where hanging tough isn’t enough — this is the class of the West. Beating them is tough, for anyone.
I’m excited to see if Jeff Green can carry over and play another really productive game. Ever since the text messaging from Scott Brooks, he’s averaging near nine boards a game. Kevin Durant is rebounding much better and is still scoring well. The difficult part for KD tonight will be holding Carmelo Anthony in check. But I hope to see Durant attack the rim like he did against Golden State and let the free jumpers just come to him.
The key is getting production from more than two spots and if that happens, OKC will be in the game late on the fourth. And when you’re at home and you’re close, anything can happen. Especially when you play the totally awesome Hoosiers slow-clap video like they have been the last few home games late in the fourth. I freaking love that.