Knicks (6-6, 3-2 road) vs. Thunder (7-5, 5-2 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.5 (2nd), Knicks – 104.0 (12th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 105.2 (18th), Knicks – 103.3 (15th)
Four games without Kevin Durant, 2-2 in that span. The losses haven’t really been that surprising as Boston and Memphis are both really good defensively. It has been victories in that span that have been more worrisome. The Thunder played the two worst teams in the NBA at home during that time and haven’t necessarily dominated like the should have. The rosters that compile the 76ers and Pelicans rival those of some D-League teams. And yet, the Thunder found themselves down by 6 to begin the 2nd quarter against the 76ers and found themselves with only a three point lead with less than three minutes to play against New Orleans. They won both games behind the greatness that is Russell Westbrook (32 points, 13 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game in those two games), but it really shouldn’t have come to that point. The bench play has been inconsistent at best, atrocious at worst. And the ability to maintain leads has become worrisome. They say every team in the league makes runs, but against the Thunder, its seems like EVERY team makes runs and those runs don’t seem to stop until its too late.
On the flip side though, I remember how the Thunder competed when they were a bare-bone unit in the early parts of last season. They lost to the Rockets, Warriors, and Grizzlies by a combined 11 points when they were without Kevin Durant and Westbrook. Sometimes, scrappy teams with nothing to lose give it their all and scare a more talented team into a close game. I highly doubt the the Warriors and Rockets gave a second thought to their game against the D-League Thunder early in the season when they were competing in the Western Conference Finals. Sometimes, in the NBA, a win is a win, and you move on.
This is the first of two meetings between the Thunder and New York Knicks. The teams split the season series last year with each team winning on its home floor. When you look back at last season and parse through the schedule, one of the most glaring losses is the one to New York. This was a Knicks team that went on to win 17 games and featured the likes of Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas, and Andrea Bargnani’s expiring contract. When the season ended, and the Thunder were tied with the New Orleans Pelicans who held the tie-breaker for the final spot in the playoffs, that late season loss to the Knicks stood out like a sore thumb. Keep Reading…