The still all-time winless Thunder finally have their first home game...sorta. It's in the BOK Center (of Tulsa, of course) an arena that is arguably better than the Ford Center, but we don't really want to talk about that. The Thunder will also be the away team tonight, which means they still can't get out of those God-awful away jerseys. Will the Thunder finally win a game? Will Kevin Durant get his game back? How well will Tulsans attend the game? All this and more on the most recent version of Preseason Preview!
Backstory: The OKC Thunder take court in the Sooner state for the first time today. But does anyone in that other city really care? According to my dad, who spent the past week in Tulsa "house sitting" (long story) theres been no Thunder hype up there whatsoever. One of the reasons Stern was so excited about having the NBA in OKC is because he can take advantage of the Tulsa market, too, but from what I've heard, it doesn't look like that's happening. This game will be a big test for that. What will the crowd be like in Tulsa? I'm predicting pretty solid, but maybe a deceiving number. I think Tulsans are more excited about the first major sporting event in the new BOK Center than Thunder basketball. It won't be a sell-out though, mark my words.
Analysis: OK, we know this much, the Thunder have been pretty uncompetitive against some of the league's lesser teams the past few games. In pre-season play, no less! So how will they stack up against a team that some predict (including the minds here at the Blue Blitz) is good enough to win an NBA championship? Well, not well. OK, I know, it's preseason, but the Houston bench is probably better than the Thunder starting 5, it's that bad of a mismatch. We'll once again be relying on Weezy (who I heard may not be starting tonight) and Damien Wilkins to carry the team, while consistantly feeding the ball to Durant who's been struggling shooting%-wise. Of course, theres the problem of stopping YAMs: the three-headed monster of Yao-Artest-McGrady. This is tough for even the best teams, much less one of the worst in recent history. Also, not to be over looked, Luis Scola is having a good preseason, averaging almost 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Player to Watch: Let's see, no Joe Smith, Desmond Mason and Jeff Green are questionable, which in the preseason, means not playing, and Robert Swift and Kyle Weaver are out for sure. That doesn't leave a whole lot. So...I guess I'll put my neck on the line and say that Kevin Durnat will have a solid game tonight. I don't have any basis for this, and TMac will be a tough match-up for him, but perhaps the first kind-sorta home game will inspire him.
Predicted Result: Rockets 98 Thunder 87