Current Records: Oklahoma City Thunder (34-10), Philadelphia 76ers (14-29)
Last time they met: First match up of the 2013-14 season
Little has been able to slow down the Oklahoma City Thunder this year, but in their first match up of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to hope they have what it takes to take the wind out of the Thunder’s sails. On paper the two sides match up quite well even if the teams win-loss records don’t appear all too similar.
The 76ers started the season well but have had a tough time finding any consistency since opening week. They are playing well but have been unable to close out games and win the ones they should. They will go into this one as huge underdogs, but when they don’t have the expectation of victory, they may also play a little more freely.
Oklahoma City Thunder will want to put the points up on the board in a hurry. They have excelled at putting away sub .500 teams and they will be wanting more of the same. If they can get out to a hefty lead early, they can start to give their bench some additional minutes and rest their stars like Kevin Durant who has been logging some serious minutes.
The 76ers are a balanced squad who will rely on getting solid performances out of everyone to be competitive and the Thunder will want to push the pace and force the young Philly squad into turning the ball over so they can get some easy buckets in transition.
Kevin Durant vs. Evan Turner
Not much else can be said about Durant as he is probably the most in form player in the NBA right now and front runner for the MVP award. He has taken over nearly every game he has played since his running mate Russell Westbrook went down and this one could be a similar story. Evan Turner is having a terrific season of his own, but he will need to play a near-flawless game to get the better of this matchup. If Turner can run Durant off his spots and at least make him give up the ball, the 76ers are a chance. They will also need Turner to put points on the board though or they will struggle to post a winning score.
Reggie Jackson vs Michael Carter-Williams
Jackson has to be considered a candidate for the Most Improved Player award for his growth and development as a player this season, and he will be going head to head with the favourite for the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Jackson will be a tough cover though as he is so strong and can really back down Carter-Williams and get to the bucket. MCW though has terrific length and works hard with the ball. It will be an interesting battle between these two as Carter-Williams runs Jackson around screens, and Reggie goes straight at MCW forcing him to defend.
Serge Ibaka vs Thaddeus Young
The battle of the athletic front courts is going to be very interesting and entertaining to watch, but will also go a long way to deciding which team walks away with the W. Ibaka has been terrific on both ends of the floor and his extra offence and range has helped Durant and the Thunder become more multifaceted. Thad Young has done exactly the same for Philadelphia and can stretch the defense with his long range shooting. The energy these two produce will be endless, and whoever can win the rebound count can take the honours in this matchup.
While it should be a fairly easy win to the Thunder, you can never count out young and athletic teams who can score the basketball. The 76ers have upset some big teams this year – such as Miami Heat and Portland Trailblazers, but they have also lost some very winnable contests. The Thunder will keep rolling though and take this one pretty easily in the end after running away with it in the second half. Thunder 112, 76ers 92.
Who do you think takes the points in this one? Let us know in the comments below!