- When: Friday, 05 December 2014 at 6:00 PM CST
- Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Expectations can be a horrible thing at times. We look at players as statistical numbers, thinking that once they are plugged back into the lineup, their numbers will be added to the bottom line. In emotional haste for satisfaction, we forget to consider the effects of an adjustment period. And that’s what we saw happen on Tuesday, when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook played for the first time together all season. We figured, “20 game win streak upcoming”. Instead, we got a team that seemed a bit too amped up (I’m looking at you Westbrook) and a defense (or lack thereof) that had only reared its ugly head a couple times this season. Luckily, the Thunder are getting healthy at a time in the schedule where they can fit in some practices. Hopefully, the Thunder can adjust quickly enough and get their chemistry and timing down.
This is the first of two meetings this season between the Thunder and 76ers. The Thunder have won the last 10 meetings against the 76ers, dating back to their inaugural season in Oklahoma City.
The Philadelphia 76ers come into the game with a 1-17 record, and are riding the high of a 1-game winning streak. This team is the reason draft reform was even brought up earlier this season. The front office has purposely put together a team that is devoid of any establised talent and, outside of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, devoid of any veteran presence. The team is a mixture of burgeoning first round talent, 2nd round hopefuls, and D-League graduates. Michael Carter-Williams returned from shoulder surgery a couple games back and is looking to build on his Rookie of the Year campaign from last season. Though he is offensively inefficient (36.8% FG, 23.5% 3Pt FG), he is a triple double threat every time he walks on the court. Joining him in the backcourt is Tony Wroten, who leads the team in scoring (17.9), assists (6.3), and steals (1.9). Unfortunately, Wroten has been out for the past 3 games due to a sprained knee and will miss the game against the Thunder. Hollis Thompson, who was once a training camp invitee of the Thunder, will replace him in the starting line-up. Up front, Nerlens Noel and Henry Sims provide the Sixers with a front line that struggles at times offensively, but whose energy can affect the game in other ways (defense, rebounding, etc). Off the bench, rookie KJ McDaniels is one of the more versatile players in the league, and Robert Covington is a D-League legend that can fill it up “Nick Young-style” if you allow him to get going.
Probable Starting Line-ups
- PG – Michael Carter-Williams
- SG – Hollis Thompson
- SF – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
- PF – Nerlens Noel
- C – Henry Sims
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Russell Westbrook
- SG – Andre Roberson
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Steven Adams
3 Keys to the Game
1. Defense – This team is horrible offensively. They are last in points per game and offensive rating. They are an inefficient bunch that relies on transition opportunities and 2nd chance points to do most of their scoring. With that said, this is still an NBA team that has pushed some good teams to the brink of defeat this season. Also, Covington, McDaniels, and Thompson can light it up from 3-point territory if they are given the opportunity. The Thunder need to come into this game with a defensive mindset and not allow the Sixers any semblance of hope.
2. Depth – The Thunder will finally have a full roster on Friday. All 13 players who will be active will be available for tonight’s game. I have to write that because it is the first time this season I can do that. The Sixers are missing a key piece in Wroten and are talent depleted as is. The Thunder need to take advantage of their depth and wear the Sixers away.
3. Just win – A win streak always starts at one (just ask the Sixers). If the Thunder are to start making up any ground, tonight would probably be the most opportune time to do that.