Mar 3, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich (6) fouls Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

OKC Thunder (1-1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (0-1) Preview


Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

The Atlanta Hawks felt the wrath of James Harden in their season-opener two nights ago. Harden went for a career-high 45 and led his Houston Rockets to victory.

Now the Hawks will have to deal with the team that traded Harden as they travel to play the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at 7 p.m. EST.

The Thunder stumbled out of the gates losing their first game of the season in San Antonio thanks to a Tony Parker buzzer-beater.

The Thunder looked glad to be home in their second game as they beat the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night 106-92.

Kevin Durant has looked to do more than just score so far this season. He is looking to be a playmaker early in the games and find his bigs on rolls to the basket and kick out to shooters for threes. Durant had a monster all-around game vs. Portland with 23 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists.

Durant had 35 in the one game OKC played Atlanta last year. The Thunder lost that game 97-90 as the Hawks ended a 7-game winning streak for OKC.

Russell Westbrook looked horrible in the first game of the season in San Antonio shooting 6-for-21 from the field but bounced back nicely vs. the Blazers. He torched Portland for 32 points and six assists with just one turnover.

Westbrook always struggles against the Spurs and his matchup with Parker. At home facing a Hawks squad that sports Jeff Teague and Devin Harris at the point, expect another big performance from Westbrook.

Kevin Martin has been learning to play with the Thunder on the fly since being traded eight days ago in the Harden deal. He looked hesitant in his first game but still scored 15 points and dished out five assists. He looked better against Portland making all three of his threes and dropping 19 for the game.

Serge Ibaka has struggled the most for the Thunder while trying to increase his offensive responsibility the most. He’s averaging just 5.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game so far this season and shooting 27.8 percent from the field.

In Atlanta’s win vs. the Thunder last year, Josh Smith had a huge game with 30 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Smith did not travel with the team and will not play tonight.

Al Horford is another big piece of the Hawks’ offense that will be covered by Kendrick Perkins. Perkins injured his left ankle at the end of the Thunder’s last game but is still expected to start tonight.

Horford was one of the most efficient post-up players in the league over the past two years but Perkins is known for being one of the best post-up defenders.

Playing at home, the Thunder should look good again tonight. Atlanta has a lot of new pieces too and they probably aren’t ready to knock of a team like the Thunder on the road. Expect OKC to improve to 2-1 after tonight.

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