Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Denver Nuggets

Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks.

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Denver Nuggets Team Overview

The Nuggets finished their first full season post-Carmelo Anthony with a 38-28 record and 6-seed in the West. They went on to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round in the playoffs in seven games.

Denver started off the year great then had to battle some injuries which really slowed them down. They played at one of the highest paces in the league and were one of the most efficient offenses but their lack of a superstar still seemed to hold them back at the end of the day.

This summer they were part of the Dwight Howard trade and ended up getting Andre Iguodala out of the deal. They gave up Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington in the deal so they made out very well, except for the fact that they helped the team that just beat them in the playoffs in getting the best center in the league.

The Nuggets re-signed JaVale McGee and Andre Miller, signed free agent Anthony Randolph and drafted Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller. Denver will also be parting ways with Chris Andersen and Rudy Fernandez from last year’s roster.

The Nuggets will once again have one of the deepest teams in the league next year and have now added an All-Star to the roster in Iguodala. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are both on the cusp of becoming All-Stars and if either takes the next step, Denver could become a serious contender in the West.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets played three times last year with the Thunder winning the season series 2-1.

The first meeting was on Feb. 19 in Oklahoma City in a very memorable overtime game that the Thunder won 124-118.

Kevin Durant scored a career-high 51 points in the game while Russell Westbrook scored 40. James Harden struggled with just 10 points on 2-of-12 shooting. Serge Ibaka had a triple-double with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks.

Afflalo led the Nuggets with 27 and Miller had 21 points and 10 assists off the bench.

The Thunder then beat the Nuggets next in Denver on March 15 103-90. Durant had 24, Westbrook 23 and Harden 18.

The Nuggets were short-handed having just traded away Nene. Miller led them with 17. Denver really struggled from three making just 5-of-22 attempts.

Denver finally would beat OKC in their final meeting of the year in Oklahoma City on April 25 106-101. The Thunder were without Harden who had just recently been elbowed in the head by Metta World Peace. Durant scored 32 and Westbrook had 30.

Lawson led the way for Denver with 25.

Durant averaged 35.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game vs. the Nuggets. He shot .591 percent from the field and .579 percent from three.

Westbrook averaged 31.0 points, 7.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. He shot .500 percent from the field and from three.

Harden averaged just 14.0 points and 5.0 assists per game and shot .348 percent from the field. Ibaka averaged 11.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game.

The matchup

The Nuggets were one of the best teams in the league last year getting out and running and it showed as they were third in the NBA in transition offense in terms of points per possession. The Thunder were just 16th in the NBA vs. transition.

The Nuggets were also a very good pick-and-roll team as they featured many ball handler options on the floor at a time. They were ninth in the NBA while the Thunder were 11th in the league vs. the pick-and-roll.

Denver also got 9.4 percent of their offense off cuts which ranks them among the best in the league. This was testament to their depth and solid ball movement thanks to their point guards Lawson and Miller.

Defensively, Denver was ranked overall just 26th in the league. They were third best with their post defense but the Thunder hardly get any offense from the post.

Denver was ranked 21st vs. isolation and pick-and-roll plays which makes it very hard for them to match up with the Thunder offense.

The addition of Iguodala should help their defense overall. In one game vs. Iguodala and the Sixers last season, Durant struggled going 7-for-18 from the field against the elite defender.

Next year

The Nuggets and Thunder will play four times next season. They will play first on Jan. 16 in OKC, then in Denver just four days later. They’ll play in Denver again on March 1 and then in OKC March 19.

Denver was very good last year and if they had stayed healthy, could have ended up with a slightly higher seed in the West. The addition of Iguodala could be huge for them next season and push them close to getting over that hump and becoming a legitimate title contender.

The Thunder have always played well against the Nuggets though, especially in the last two seasons. Durant and Westbrook tore them up last year and those kinds of things usually stick with players.

Denver really needs to improve on defense to match up with the Thunder and they are trying to do that with the additions of Iguodala and McGee.

OKC and Denver will always make for fun games as they are two of the best up-tempo teams in the league. A playoff series between these two teams would be really fun.

Topics: Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder

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