Feb 29, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Thunder defeated the Sixers 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Philadelphia 76ers

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, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic.

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Philadelphia 76ers Team Overview

The 76ers finished 35-31 last season and captured the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference. In the first game of their first round series, Derrick Rose blew out his knee paving way for the 76ers’ upset.

Philly then played Boston very tough in the second round but would lose in seven games.

Philadelphia would become a part of the 4-team Dwight Howard trade this offseason trading away Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic and receiving Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson.

Iguodala will be missed by the chance to acquire the second best center in the league could not be passed up. Bynum will now be the No. 1 option on a team for the first time in his career and having just come off a career year, the ceiling for him and this franchise look pretty high.

Philly will also be parting ways with Elton Brand and Lou Williams and replacing them with Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Kwame Brown, Royal Ivey and Arnett Moultrie. While Bynum was a huge upgrade for the franchise, the other movement on the roster may have been a slight set back.

Philadelphia will be relying on young players like Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday to really breakout next year. The potential is there and if it is met, the 76ers could become a real force in the East.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the 76ers once last season in Philly and beat them 92-88 on Feb. 29.

The Thunder were down four entering the fourth but a late rally led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would propel them to the win. Durant had 23 points in the game and Westbrook had 22. Durant went 7-of-18 from the field and had only four rebounds while Westbrook went 7-for-20 from the field, had 13 rebounds (seven offensive) and seven turnovers.

James Harden scored 16 off the bench and the Thunder were plus-12 in the 32 minutes he played.

Holiday and Iguodala led the 76ers with 18 apiece.

The Thunder shot just 38.5 percent from the field but had 19 offensive rebounds in the game which kept them in it.

The matchup

The 76ers had the 16th best overall offense in terms of points per possession last season. They were solid all-around and had no real matchup advantage vs. the Thunder.

Philly was 5th in the NBA on isolation plays but 17th on spot-up plays and the pick-and-roll.

The 76ers won games with their defense which was 3rd in the NBA overall in PPP. They were 4th best vs. spot-up plays and 2nd best vs. the pick-and-roll.

The Thunder still had a pretty big advantage against the 76ers when it came to isolation plays where the 76ers were just 22nd in the NBA against.

The 76ers were also able to limit the Thunder offense because of their transition defense which ranked 4th best in the league.

Next year

The 76ers will have a new look next year, one that will give them more hope than before. It is unknown exactly how Bynum will handle becoming the No. 1 option on a team and if he can avoid injury for a second straight season.

The Thunder will play Philly twice next year first Nov. 24 in Philly then Jan. 4 in OKC.

The great defense the76ers had last year made them a tough team for the Thunder to play. Iguodala had a ton to do with that and now without him, the 76ers could take a big step back on D.

The Thunder are also one of the best teams in the league defending the post and matching up with Bynum should not be too tough for them.

While the 76ers may have upped their ceiling next year by swapping Iguodala for Bynum, they have not necessarily made themselves a better candidate to compete against the Thunder. But for the 76ers, they should be getting better in the East and that matters first and foremost for them.

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