OKC Thunder must limit Nuggets one-two punch in Northwest battle

OKC Thunder's Danilo Gallinari #8 puts up a shot over Jerami Grant #9 (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder's Danilo Gallinari #8 puts up a shot over Jerami Grant #9 (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder’s Chris Paul #3 strips the ball from Gary Harris #14 (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder are ready to push for the playoffs with less than 30 games to go and determination that’s unparalleled. Gameday breaks down the match.

All-Star Weekend is wrapped up, teams are now stable with squads that they can compete with until the end of the season, and the NBA playoffs are 57 days away.

For many, this is the most exciting time of the year as it is make or break. Teams will be going full throttle to secure the golden opportunity at a playoff berth.

While some may say that the regular season isn’t important, this part of the year couldn’t be any more consequential. It really is now or never.

If there’s any team that can live up to this frame of mind, it is the OKC Thunder. In sixth place with top-tier offense and defense, they are going to cause trouble for the opposition throughout this run.

To kick it off, they will play the Denver Nuggets who are second in the West and have a record of 38-17. It will be a battle of the Northwest and a meeting with former OKC Thunder defensive savant Jerami Grant.

The Nuggets are playing amazing basketball rubbing shoulders with the Lakers and Clippers, but may not be getting as much credit as they deserve.

Led by the one-two punch of All-Star Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, they are fifth in the league for winning percentage and have proven difficult to get past for OKC in recent history.

The Thunder haven’t defeated the Nuggets since December 2017. Arguably the most memorable win over them came in April 2016. As Russell Westbrook passed Oscar Robertson‘s record for the most triple-doubles in a regular season.

OKC looks to turn this losing streak around. With that, here are the keys to the game.