The Oklahoma City Thunder will host the Denver Nuggets tonight at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Nuggets are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now and if not for the 23-game winning streak the Miami Heat are currently on, people would definitely be talking more about Denver and their 12-game streak.
Remember at the beginning of the season when everyone was so high on Denver? John Hollinger even picked them to win the Western Conference and win 60-plus games.
A tough early schedule made everyone forget about those expectations pretty quickly but now it looks like the Nuggets have really hit their stride. They look like they may even be a team that could come out of the West.
How much should the Thunder be worried about a potential playoff matchup with the Nuggets?
The most difficult thing about playing a team like Denver in the playoffs is their home court advantage. Denver is 30-3 at home this season, which is tied with Miami for the best home record in the league.
The Thunder will have home court vs. Denver but that puts more pressure on a team to make sure they win at home. We’ve seen it happen before in a series too when a team wins a couple of games in a row at home, it completely shifts the momentum of that series. Denver has the capability to pull something like that off.
On paper, the Thunder really shouldn’t have a lot of trouble with the Nuggets in a series. A big reason why the Nuggets have been so good lately in the regular season has been their incredible depth. They really have 11 or 12 players that can play at a high level on any given night.
In the playoffs, rotations always shrink and the team that used depth to its advantage in the regular season often sees that advantage fade away in the playoffs.
One thing the Nuggets do have going for them is they have a couple of players that can at least do a decent job defending Kevin Durant. Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and Wilson Chandler (Iguodala much more than Brewer and Chandler) are three guys that can put up a fight against KD.
Durant really should be able to do fine in a series against Denver but if you can get him to have an off-shooting night one or two games, that may be all Denver needs to steal the series. Iguodala, Brewer and Chandler may be able to do this to Durant.
There is some really good news Thunder fans and that is that the Nuggets will have no chance containing Russell Westbrook in a seven-game series. Westbrook is averaging 35.3 points on 49.3 percent shooting from the field vs. Denver this season.
Ty Lawson and Andre Miller are simply no match for staying in front of Westbrook, who has had his way with the Nuggets this year. As important as Durant is to the Thunder, if you know Westbrook is going to have a good series then you feel as good as you can about the Thunder’s chances to win.
We will see Denver and OKC for the fourth time this season tonight. It may very well be a preview of what will definitely be one of the most entertaining playoff series this year.