Milwaukee Bucks (8-5, 2-4 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-7, 3-3 home)
TV: ESPN (Cox 29, HD 720) FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, DirectTV 679, UVerse 753)
Stream: Click Here (also on ESPN360)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Time: 8:30 CST
View from the enemy: Bucksketball
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 103.8 (23rd), Bucks – 104.1 (21st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.4 (6th), Bucks – 100.7 (5th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.2 (17th), Bucks – 94.2 (11th)
Hellllllo America! Just like we thought, the Thunder has gotten picked up for a nationally televised game and as a result, the franchise and those close to it are going berserk over it. And rightfully so. This is a big one for this team. It’s a good chance to get people on the Kevin Durant bandwagon early this year. Get people talking about Russell Westbrook’s improvement. Maybe alert people to James Harden’s complete game. And most of all, show everyone this isn’t your 2008-09 Thunder team. It’s new and very much improved.
Oh yeah, the actual game. That’s important too. This is the first of a five-game home stand and actually one of the most winnable ones. Oklahoma City matches up pretty well with Milwaukee and here’s a chance to get a little run going. Rip off four of five here and now you’re talking seriously about playoff stuff. It’s still VERY early, but at least you can realistically start picturing it.
We all know about Brandon Jennings. He’s exciting, he’s intriguing and he can flat out play. But there is one important thing to remember about him: He’s a rookie. As awesome as he may be and may become, he’s still going to have “those nights” and a quality defender like Russell Westbrook can help force those nights. I imagine Thabo will get a little time on Jennings as well, but I feel like Westbrook is the best pick because he can match quick with quick.
Michael Redd has been coming off the bench for Milwaukee and again, a great matchup for Thabo. He torments undersized twos that want to shoot. It just plays right into Thabo’s best D. Inside, the Bucks will look to Dan Gadzuric who is filling in for Andrew Bogut who is questionable and Hakim Warrick who was signed in the offseason. Ersan Ilyasova is a jumpshooting small forward that has to play the four. He has nice touch, but he’s very inconsistent and a bit stiff. Uncle Jeff should have a nice game on the drive tonight.
I would guess Charlie Bell (6’4) would get the assignment on Kevin Durant because Bell is a nice defender, but Carlos Delfino (6’6) is technically the three for the Bucks. Whoever it is, nobody really matches KD well tonight. I love these type of games.
The Bucks have lost two straight and while 8-5, they are 1-2 against teams above .500. And guess what? The Thunder is above .500! We’re in that category! This game just feels important right now. The more you win, the more important they feel but with everyone watching, I feel like a good showing is in order. It’s all about defending Jennings and I like OKC’s personnel. The Bucks are one of the best in the league defensively so it could be a slugfest.
Tip at 8:30 CST. Go ESPN.