OKC Thunder (20-9, 10-4 road) at New York Knicks (16-12, 6-7 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.7 (9th), Knicks– 110.5 (7th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 107.0 (18th), Knicks – 109.8 (23rd)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (16th), Knicks – 96.6 (2nd)
View from the enemy: Knickerblogger
Five things that have me excited about tonight’s game against the Knicks: 1) It’s on the big stage in New York; 2) the Knicks are good; 3) Kevin Durant’s cold-blooded performance at Madison Square Garden last season; 4) The Thunder’s always fun to watch and 5) um, well I guess there’s only four things.
But the Thunder heads to MSG to play an improved Knicks team, but not a great Knicks team. New York has scorers and the ability to run up points, but they’re still light defensively and struggle rebounding. Regardless, the Thunder’s under the lights of MSG and that’s fun.
New York coming in: The Knicks last played Saturday, so they come in well rested. After ripping off eight straight, the Knicks have dropped three in a row. The latest was to the Cavaliers so it’s obvious they want to get things back on track tonight against OKC.
Everyone will have their eye on Amar’e Stoudemire against the Thunder’s big men, but really Raymond Felton versus Russell Westbrook is probably the most important head-to-head. Felton has been the thing that’s made the Knick offense go, plus he’s scoring, If Westbrook gets caught going under screens, Felton can hit that straightaway 3 with some consistency.
Stoudemire will have Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison tugging at his shorts in this one and while the Thunder can’t really match up with Amar’e, they at least have a decent trough of players to throw at him and foul him. The Knicks run pick-and-roll really well so Collison could be big in this one.
Wilson Chandler will check Kevin Durant, which is an obvious advantage for OKC. But don’t sleep on Chandler. He’s a good scorer and someone that gets to the rim well. Danilo Gallinari has been playing power forward for New York, but he’ll slide to the 3 throughout the game.
New York’s role players like Landry Fields and Toney Douglas will be keys as they can get hot and put up some solid supplementary scoring. James Harden needs to match and the Thunder needs to make sure they don’t get in a rhythm.
This is going to be a fun game because the Knicks are fun to watch, plus Kevin Durant is playing on the MSG floor, somewhere he owned last season. The Thunder needs a win most of all and the Knicks do too, losing three straight after that big win streak got stopped. These two teams will get after it tonight. Should be good.
Tip at 6:30 CT. Go KD.