OKC Thunder (27-7, 12-6 road) at Philadelphia 76ers (21-14, 13-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.9 (2nd), 76ers– 104.2 (11th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.1 (14th), 76ers – 96.3 (1st)
Pace: Thunder – 93.7 (4th), 76ers – 89.8 (25th)
View from the enemy: Philadunkia
Back at it. All that fun from Orlando is done, over with. Now it’s back to business and it doesn’t start easy for the Thunder. A trip to Philadelphia to play the resurgent 76ers, who have climbed to being a solid Eastern contender. You’ll notice that the Sixers are No. 1 in defensive efficiency while OKC is one of the finest on the offensive end. Something’s got to give.
From what I hear, the city is buzzing with OKC coming to town because it feels like a chance to make a statement. The Sixers are approaching it as a measuring stick game, which means they’re going to be extremely amped up from the start.
Philadelphia coming in: The 76ers played last night, completely whipping the Pistons to end a five-game losing streak.
Three Big Things
1. Bench vs. bench. The Sixers are one of the few teams that not only match OKC’s depth, but probably surpass it. The 76er bench is incredibly good and while the Thunder have had a solid second unit led by James Harden, it’s not as good as Philadelphia’s. Normally, OKC’s second unit is able to overwhelm the second unit they’re matched with in the second quarter, but I don’t think that’ll be the case tonight.
2. Rust proofing. It was just a small break for the team, but any time you get away for a few days, there’s a chance some of those things that were extremely sharp might dull a bit. The Thunder are riding a five-game streak and played some terrific basketball last week. Got to keep it up.
3. Point guards. Jrue Holiday has quietly improved to be a really nice point man for Philly as well as a lengthy, athletic defender. Obviously OKC has an edge with Russell Westbrook, but Holiday will look to control pace and play for the Sixers. The Thunder need Westbrook to get the best of that matchup.
Tip at 6:00 ET. Go Second Half.