Oklahoma City Thunder (1-0, 0-0 road) at Detroit Pistons (1-0, 0-0 home)
View from the enemy: Piston Powered
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 112.9 (7th), Detroit – 115.7 (4th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 98.5 (9th), Detroit – 89.2 (2nd)
Pace: Thunder – 90.3 (24th), Detroit– 82.9 (28th)
UPDATE: Richard Hamilton is a game-time decision with an ankle injury.
I have a strange feeling going into this game. After a dominating, excellent, near perfect performance in the opener, I fear I expect too much. Now Detroit isn’t the best team in the world, but they’ve got players. Pretty good ones too. Much better than Sacramento in fact. But because of how good I feel, I’m a little weary of being brought down big time tonight.
Or. Have my hopes taken up a little more. But this one is on the road, a place the Thunder went 8-33 last year. Translated: Not. Good.
This game could be an even bigger statement, to me at least, than beating either Portland or the Lakers at home next week. I said “could be” okay? A road win over a quality opponent to start the season 2-0 would grab some attention. It would make Sunday night’s game against Portland suddenly sort of important. Which I can’t even begin to imagine how excited I’d be going into that.
But by no means will tonight’s ballgame be as easy as Wednesday’s opener was. No chance. Detroit is an elite defensive team and even though the Pistons appear to have taken a step back, they’ve still got Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince and Charlie Villenueva. Those are still good players.
The matchups appear to favor Oklahoma City, at this in this biased homer’s view. I really like Russell Westbrook against Rodney Stuckey. In OKC’s 89-79 win last year of the Pistons, Westbrook held Stuckey to just three points on 1-10 shooting. Tayshaun Prince is an elite defender, one you’d think would give Kevin Durant fits because of his length, but KD lit Prince up for 32 and 26 last year.
The Pistons really play two power forwards with Villanueva and Wallace. Villanueva could be a tough match for Jeff Green because Villanueva can score both inside and out and Uncle Jeff has traditionally struggled with those. Howeva, he did do very well with Jason Thompson Wednesday night.
The X-factor to me is going to be Ben Gordon’s offense off the bench. He alone gives the Detroit bench an advantage. James Harden had trouble with Kevin Martin Wednesday and Thabo can’t guard both Hamilton and Gordon at the same time.
Detroit is coming off an easy 96-74 win over Memphis in which Hamilton led all scorers with 25 and Gordon added 22. A pretty good shot at a statement here for the Thunder in the early going. I have no idea what to expect because I don’t know what kind of test Sacto really gave.
But how stinking good does that record look right now? Pretty good, right?
Tip at 7:00 CDT. Go Undefeated.