Thunder (16-45, 4-25 road) at New Orleans Hornets (38-22, 22-9 home)
TV: KSBI-52 (Cox 9, HD 715)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Time: 7:00 CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 103.9 (28th), New Orleans: 109.5 (9th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 109.8 (21st), New Orleans: 106.4 (10th)
Pace: Thunder: 93.7 (8th), New Orleans: 87.8 (28th)
I don’t know where vengeance ranks in Tyson Chandler’s book, but let’s hope it’s low. I really don’t want to see him miffed and put up 35 points and 26 rebounds or something. I would feel sad if that happened. The Hornets are undefeated with Chandler back in the lineup so it would be kind of nice if OKC could hand them a loss.
But how about this: We’ve got a game with two hot teams as the Hornets have won seven in a row and the Thunder three in a row (how cool is that?). Right now, Jeff Green is a game-time decision and Thabo Sefolosha is listed as questionable. Kevin Durant is stil day-to-day but I’m guessing there’s about a two percent chance he plays.
Green said his back feels great, but right now with nothing on the line (except a three game win streak!), there’s really no need to rush. Except if Thabo is out that means we have like three healthy players and Scott Brooks may be player/coaching tonight. If Uncle Jeff and Blanks are out, we’ve got a healthy rotation of Westbrook, Weaver, Wilkins, Collison and Krstic. And off the bench Watson, Atkins, Rose and Swift. That’s it. That’s all the way to the end of the bench. Yikezers.
Obviously, if that’s the rotation we’re dealing with, in order to even hang close it’s got to be about defense (again). Thabo is no offensive force, but he has put up a solid 15 points the past three. And Damien Wilkins isn’t a horrible offensive player, but he’s not a very good defender. So points could be a grind and stopping the Hornets will be an equal grind. The offense will run through Krstic and Westbrook will have to create tons of scoring opportunity for everyone. It could be a pick-and-pop fest between Krstic and David West.
We’ll likely play at an incredibly sluggish pace, trying to slow everything down and make this a possession-by-possession game (the Hornets are 28th in pace as well). That’s really what we’ve done the last three (a pace of about 87.0) and it’s been relatively successful (see Joe’s post about four factors), but it could be even more visible tonight. Whatever it takes to hang close, I’m all for. Coach Scotty has shown he has some serious coaching ability these last three and I’m sure he’s going to have a solid game plan ready no matter who plays.
I kind of have a feeling Jeff Green plays for some reason, just because if he’s cleared and he feels good and the fact the team is so shorthanded, I see him playing. But if not, it’s going to be a grind and it could get ugly. But these guys have proved to be resilient (which is awesome) and there’s no way I’m counting them out no matter who plays.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go everyone.