Indiana Pacers (11-24, 3-15 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-16, 9-8 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.0 (20th), Pacers – 100.6 (27th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.9 (7th), Pacers – 106.7 (16th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.0 (19th), Pacers – 97.3 (2nd)
View from the enemy: Eight Points, Nine Seconds
Let’s put forth our due diligence here: Indiana has a capable roster with Danny Granger, Troy Murphy and the emerging Roy Hibbert leading the way. They won five straight earlier in the year and have beaten Boston, and well, I guess Boston is really their only impressive win. But they aren’t a complete bunch of pushovers.
But regardless, this should be an easy victory for Oklahoma City. The Pacers are coming off a game last night. OKC is well rested. This game is at home. The Pacers are 3-15 on the road. The Thunder have taken care of these type of opponents all season thus far and especially with a loss against the Hornets in the last outing, the Thunder by all indications should take care of business tonight.
The Pacers coming in: As I mentioned, Indiana lost in Minnesota last night and have dropped 10 of its last 12. However, the Pacers are 2-2 in their last four. And during those four, Roy Hibbert has really started to emerge as a legit big man.
Truly, across the board OKC should have an advantage. Earl Watson (Homecoming! Boo or cheer, boo or cheer? Hmm….) against Russell Westbrook obviously leans the Thunder’s way. Thabo guarding Luther Head goes OKC’s way (though I’m sure Thabo will check Danny Granger at times). Granger is a great scorer and player, but he’s no Kevin Durant. (Note: Durant will play and said he feels good after sitting out of practice yesterday with a sore ankle he sprained against the Bulls.)
Maybe not across the board, because Troy Murphy is a really solid power forward, however he’ll likely have trouble with Jeff Green’s quickness off the dribble. And as mentioned, Hibbert is solid but I’ll take Nenad Krstic, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison over him.
The Pacer bench isn’t great, but also isn’t horrible with Mike Dunleavy Jr., defensive specialist Dahntay Jones, rookie A.J. Price and Brandon Rush coming off the pine. But again, James Harden, Eric Maynor, Collison and Ibaka should give the Thunder a good leg up.
I don’t know what else to say other than this should be a taking-care-0f-business style win. If I’m worried in the fourth quarter at any point, I’m not going to be too thrilled. But with that said, I just want a win and it doesn’t matter if it comes by one or by 20.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go T-H-U-N-D-E-R.