OKC Thunder (27-14, 12-8 road) at Denver Nuggets (23-17, 18-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.8 (9th), Nuggets – 111.4 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.0 (17th), Nuggets – 108.2 (18th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.3 (11th), Nuggets – 96.2 (3rd)
View from the enemy: Roundball Mining Company
As has been well documented, the Thunder bounces back well. Here’s another opportunity, although this isn’t an easy shot at it. Most teams struggle with the trip from L.A. to Denver, though at least the Thunder has the luxury of this not being a back-to-back. Still, the Nuggets are excellent at home and the Thunder’s never played well in the Pepsi Center.
Denver coming in: The Nuggets have won three of four, but last played Sunday, losing badly in San Antonio.
For the first time this year, we finally get the Kevin Durant – Carmelo Anthony matchup. And it very well could be the last time we see it with Melo wearing the powder blue. George Karl has said recently that Melo looks distracted, so we’ll see if he zones out any tonight.
The Nuggets have always beaten up the Thunder in Denver because of the interior game. Nene is an absolutely awful matchup for OKC and Kenyon Martin is the type of bruiser that really crushes the offensive glass.
Aaron Afflalo is really what I think we all wish Thabo was, a solid defender with scoring ability, most notably, a good 3-point shot. Since the two kind of offset, I would see this game as a good opportunity to get James Harden heavy minutes.
Russell Westbrook has a lot of advantages over Chauncey Billups, but Billups still has his jumper and Ty Lawson has done really well playing behind Billups. So while OKC has an edge at point guard, it’s not that big because of Denver’s depth there.
I honestly don’t expect a win tonight, just because of the Thunder’s past history in Denver. What’s killed OKC though in the past is poor games from KD and Westbrook. If the two of them play well, the Thunder wins. It’s pretty simple. At this current moment, Denver is still a big divisional game for OKC, although they likely won’t be in a few weeks.
Tip at 8:00 CT. Go Thunder.