Somehow, God of Thunder failed to correctly predict the outcome of a game for the first time last night. Please, do not lose faith. Even Michael Jordan has missed a shot, even Tiger Woods has missed a putt, even Mariano Rivera has blown a save. However, it won't be any layup, as the Thunder face another pathetic team tonight, the Indiana Pacers. The teams are a combined 3-7, which may not make for must-watch T.V., but does give the Thunder a chance at an elusive victory.
Backstory: The Thunder had a four-point lead over the Josh Smith-less Hawks heading into the fourth quarter, but managed to be outscored 31-23 in that decisive period. Who else but the Thunder, right? That's life in the NBA, though. We'll see plenty of "third-quarter collapses" (or in this case fourth quarter) before it's all said and done. That's not an excuse though. When you're up on a team like the Hawks in the third quarter, you need to close the deal. This is very stereotypical "young team", though. Things will get better as the season goes on (or at least they better) but OKC fans just have to be patient until that time comes.
T.J. Ford vs. Earl Watson
Edge: Ford Tough
I'm sure T.J. regrets the day Jermaine O'Neal was shipped to Toronto, banishing him to the Pacers, who could be rebuilding for awhile. Regardless, he wipes the floor with Earl Watson, as most decent NBA point guards should do.
Marquis Daniels vs. Kevin Durant
This is definitely no disrespect to Daniels, who is having a fantastic year with 15 points per game (second on the Pacers) 6.8 boards per game (second on the Pacers) and 3.4 assists (again, second on the Pacers). Therefore, one can clearly see who the most balanced Pacers player is. Still, KD is the one strength on this team, and though he struggles at times, you've got to believe he'll pull through in a winnable game like this.
Danny Granger vs. Jeff Green
Don't get me started. Danny Granger is the most under-rated player in the NBA (though I admit his stats may be inflated by his terrible team).
Troy Murphy vs. Nick Collison
Time to shed some light on Nick Collison's down year. Averaging 6 points and 6.4 rebounds, decent if you come off the bench. To this day, I'm still a strong proponent of the Start Chris Wilcox Movement
Jeff Foster vs. Johan Petro
Edge: FosterThe best center match-up in the NBA since Petro-Perkins. I don't know if you can even have a winner in this one, their stats or so similar. I ought to just count it as a loss for both.
Battle of the Benches
One of the two categories the Thunder have had a consistent edge in all season. I challenge you to name two Pacer bench players off the top of your head. If it took you more than 8 seconds, you only verify my point.
Coaching and Intangibles
Jim O'Brien has had some NBA post-season success, though I do admit I did have to look up who the hell the Pacers coach was now that Carlisle is gone. And it's in Indiana, so no reason to go with the Thunder here.
Player to Watch: Jeff Green has had a quiet season, not in numbers, but in recognition. He may be the most -strike that- is the most efficient Thunder starter. So, I'm going to finally give the man some props and make him tonight's Player to Watch.
God of Thunder's Pick: This is for redemption! Pacers 93 Thunder 83