Chicago Bulls (0-0, 0-0 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0, 0-0 home)
View from the enemy: By The Horns
Basketball! Tonight! I can’t believe it. This summer felt abnormally long and it was due to the ridiculous amount of anticipation we’ve all had ever since Russell Westbrook’s prayer clanked off the iron in Game 6. We’ve been waiting for opening night for a while now. And it’s finally here.
I have some reservations about this game just because anticipation and over-excitement make me nervous. This team knows it has a ton of hype and expectation surrounding it. And there might be some pressure to go out and prove something big in the opening game. Plus, a sketchy preseason doesn’t really lend a ton of confidence heading in.
But this is a good way to start too. One of the East’s best squads comes to town with a bunch of star power. Carlos Boozer is obviously out but the Bulls are a rebuilt team with a bunch of new faces.
Here are some notes from the Elias Sports Bureau:
- KD needs just 33 points to reach 6000. This will be his 237th game. The only two players to get to 6000 before game 240 are LeBron (221) and Shaq (230).
- KD has a career scoring average of 24.2 against Chicago. Durant’s notched at least 25 in the last four meetings.
- Last season, Jeff Green, KD and Russell Westbrook were the only trio in the NBA to combine to score at least 60 percent of their team’s total points.
Chicago coming in: They haven’t played yet, so um, there’s not really anything to say. I assume their trip was a good one though.
If you don’t feel a little extra excitement about Rose vs. Westbrook you should be sad about yourself or something. Westbrook has closed the gap on Rose and even has some people wondering if he’s the best point guard to come out of the 2008 class. Any time they go head-to-head it’s exciting because there’s so much skill, speed and athleticism. Nobody really has the edge in the matchup and in the past, they’ve kind of taken turns outplaying each other.
Keith Bogans is starting at shooting guard for the Bulls so Thabo Sefolosha will check him. That’s basically two defenders guarding each other, so the interesting thing is when the backups come in. James Harden and Ronnie Brewer could be big difference makers in this game off the bench. It’ll be interesting to see how Scott Brooks uses Harden. Does he want offense vs. defense with Harden in against Bogans? Does he want Thabo on Brewer? It’ll be one of those rotational matchups to keep an eye on.
Kevin Durant obviously has a big edge on Luol Deng, but Deng is a quality scorer when he gets going. The Bulls will rely on him to put up some points, especially with Carlos Boozer out. There are times Deng can get hot and drop a 30 spot on you. Durant though should be able to get his shot when he wants and it’ll be interesting to see how Brooks moves him around postionally.
Inside, Jeff Green needs to pull Taj Gibson out some and use the dribble to get to the rim. The Bulls are stacked even without Boozer with Gibson and Joakim Noah. The Thunder bench with Serge Ibaka and Cole Aldrich will be key in helping contain the battle on the glass. OKC might not win on the boards, but it’s got to be close.
A lot of excitement and anticipation building up this game makes me a bit nervous. The national television stuff, the hype coming in and all the expectations. But it’s a good way to kick off the season because the Thunder better get used to this stuff.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Season.