Sunday, November 16, 2008

We Have Moved!

Our NEW SITE is at Everybody Update your blogrolls and bookmarks.

If you're looking at this post at some point in the future, then here is the welcome post for our new site.

It's been a long ride here at Blue Blitz. We've experienced the unveiling of the logo, the the unveiling of the jerseys, and our first 10 losses here. It saddens me to leave our old Blogspot home, but we must move forward. We will have a link to this old site as "Blue Blitz Classic" if you ever want to pop by for a visit. But we have input all of the old posts into our new site, so, aside from the comments and design, this place is all but obsolete.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow....

-Zebulun Benbrook and Benjamin Luschen
Proprietors of Blue Blitz, formerly The Oklahoma City NBA Sports the Max!!!!

P.S. Visit Our New Site Now! Register for Bloguin and have access to other site! Listen to the New Podcast! Keep Track of the New Award Count! Have a Ball!

Game 10 Recap: Philadelphia 110, Oklahoma City 85

Coaching or taking a dump? With this team, what's the difference!

I know what you're thinking, "What, no Pregame? How will I get my nightly fix of God of Thunder?" Do not worry, it will be back. Even God of Thunder is only human (...wait...). However, it's easy to assume that had God of Thunder made a pick for the game in the City of Brotherly Love, it would have been a correct one. Anyone could have seen this beatdown coming. It seems no Thunder lead is safe. So, time for some more depressing analysis on your hometown NBA team!

It isn't like the 76ers have been very amazing thus far. With the Thunder win, they're still only at .500. The Thunder though, inversely, have been amazingly bad. Their performance today only suits to reinforce that point. They were outscored 64-43 in the second half alone, including 33-18 in the third quarter. Considering they were only down 6 at the break, this is the type of collapse only made possible by what may be the worst team since the expansion Bobcats.

The story is in the stats. Of the 9 players that got over 10 minutes of playing time in the game, only two of them (Green and Durant no surprise) shot better than 40%. Included in those 9 players were Robert Swift and Nick Collison, who combined to shoot 0-8 from the floor. These are two big men no less! Only two of our starters even went to the free throw line and only Kevin Durant took any more than 2 attempts (a very impressive 4).

In contrast, Philly shot much better than us, going a combined 46.9% from the floor (compared to our 39.5%) and a red-hot 42.9% from three-point range (compared to our 28.6%).

The bottomline is that they were better than us at every position last night, and it hurt us. It became painfully obvious that we can get no production from our anybody at the starting PG and C positions. Frankly, we were exposed...oh wait, everybody already knows about that.

I'm proud to say that Jeff Green was able to take home the title of Thunder Wonder. His 21 points on 66.7% shooting lead the team, plus 3 rebounds and 4 assists. I'm really beginning to think that this guy could be quite a player in the future.

Thunder Down Under honors go to...Johan Petro? Yes, the same Johan Petro who was absolutely useless as a starter and was recently given the ultimate slap in the face when he was replaced by Mr. Ink himself, Robert Swift. Tonight though, he was able to score 9 points and grab a team high 12 rebounds off the bench, which by far trumps what Swift did. He did have a terrible shooting percentage day, but one can't be too picky when trying to find the second best performer on this team...

Sorry Nick, but somebody's got to be Thunder Blunder

...On the other hand, when it comes to finding the worst performer of the night, the Thunder have quite a selection. Tonights Most Valuable Puker and Thunder Blunder is none other than Nick Collison, though. He did manage to grab a nice 6 boards, but other than that, nada. 0-7 from the floor, and scored 2 more points than I did. I'm sorry, but this has to be the final straw in the fight to keep him as a starter. As soon as Chris Wilcox comes back, park this sucka on the bench.

And tonight's Thunder Plunderer goes to Samuel Dalembert. It was a close call over forward Thaddeus Young, but Dalembert was able to both burn the Thunder with his scoring (13 points, 6-10 shooting) and rebounding (16 boards) not to mention his 3 blocks.

Next game: Monday night vs. the Houston Rockets (It's OSSM night at the Ford Center!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Game 9 Recap: New York 116, Oklahoma City 106

Noooo!!!! Please don't eat me!

Royce and I had very conflicting opinions about tonight. While I was telling the team to control the ball, make half court sets, work around for a shot, and play defense, he was preaching, "Just run with 'em!" Well, it looks right he was the correct one.

At the very start of the game, they tried running the fast break, but Earl Watson kept missing shots, so they went to the slow style, and it didn't work. It was almost painful to watch as the Thunder couldn't get anything going and were forced into bad shots and turnovers. It's a common misconception that smallball teams play bad defense....they're usually actually quite good at it if you get them into half court sets. I don't know how many times I saw the guards of the Knicks leak out after a missed shot. One of the Knicks superb rebounders would grab it, and throw it up court for an easy lay in, while most of our guys would still be standing on their own end of the floor.

But, we were yet again witness to a second half comeback. I think I've nailed our games against the upper 20 teams of the NBA down to a 3 type of game science:
Type 1: Just get destroyed. (Example: the Magic game)
Type 2: Show some promise in the 1st and have a good lead, let it whittle down to a tie in the 2nd, and then just let the other team push their lead up to 20 by the time the game is done. (Example: the Celtics game)
Type 3: Come out really crappy, realize what you were doing wrong strategy wise, correct it, and come to within just enough of a margin to win, but then crap out in the last 5 minutes. (Example: todays game at the Knicks)

No one likes the sad D'Antoni look. :-(

I really don't know what the deal is with our coach. P.J. Carlesimo has been in the league longer than most players, and he's learned from the best, Gregg Popovich. He's had this same team for a year before this. Why can't he figure out what to do until the 1st half is up? I mean, did losing Luke Ridnour really make that much of a difference in his game?

Tonights NBA flashback was Malik Rose. I mean, I had no idea that dude was still playing basketball! Much less in a run n' gun system under D'Antoni! I know there's no analysis here, but it's just kind of a wow moment.

I'm also finding myself really hating the FSN Oklahoma coverage. I'm really tired of Brian Davises voice, and Grant Longs insight is usually minimal at best. I was really psyched to watch the game tonight because I thought I could watch it on MSG with Walt Frazier, but DirectTV blocked me out (even though I have league pass) and forced me to watch Grant Long. If you think about their NBA careers, their broadcasting careers are about equivalent. And, I assure you, it's not because I'm sick of hearing the same guys. I really love the Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area guys, Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett. When I watch the Warriors, I love hearing Bobs voice, and Jims great old-school analysis, even if half the time he is reminding the team to trade the 2 for 1. Davis and Long just kind of have no personality for me. Maybe my opinion will change as the season progresses, but these guys are homers to the highest degree. "Did you just see Robert Swift pull down that rebound? Wow!" "We're within 15, looks like we have a good chance of winning!" Ugh, no way. Please get some new announcers!

As far as awards go, Kevin Durant had a typical Kevin Durant-y night. He scored a lot of points, which makes you think he did good, but then you look at his lack of other stats and his poor shooting and realize he had a crappy game. Who really exceled tonight was Russell Westbrook. He actually shot 50%....that's right, 50% from the floor tonight. He grabbed 10 rebounds, 5 of them offensive and tossed 6 assists, almost securing the all coveted triple double. Add on his 19 points, 6-12 shooting, and 1 steal, and you easily get the Thunder Wonder for tonight.

As far as the Thunder Down Under award goes, there are 3 who deserve consideration. Some might be tempted to go ith the black fingernailed Robert Swift and his 13 rebounds, but 4 points just won't cut it tonight. Some might be tempted to go with Jeff Green, who had 16 Points, 8 Rebounds, and 4 Assists, but his 7-17 shooting puts him out of contention. The real performer here is Nick Collison. 14 points, 7-8 Shooting, 6 Rebounds, and 1 Assist locks the award up for him. While his rebounds were kind of low, he still had an excellent and efficent scoring night.

Sadly, I have to give the Thunder Blunder award to Joe Smith. 4 Points, 2-3 Shooting, and 2 rebounds isn't totally bad in 16 minutes, but it was clear thst this was not his type of game. His 33 year old body simply can't handle such a fast game, and this was apparent for the large numbe ofr time he was standing around mid or quarter court watching a scoring play happen. He's much more comfortable in half court sets. Still, it wasn't that bad of a performance, as he din't really hurt the team all that much when he played, but nobody else on the roster really warrants it. I suppose one could just as well give the award to Johan Petro, but he was much more efficent with 6 Points, 3-6 Shooting, and 5 Rebounds in only 10 minutes. I really like Petro coming off of the bench, and I think that's where he should stay.

On the other side of the ball, David Lee gets the Thunder Plunderer award off of the bench. Since they were playing D'Antonis fast ball, everybody else has abysmal shooting percentages. With 18 Points, 7-8 Shooting, 6 Rebounds, and 1 Assist, David Lee definately earns the right to be the second Thunder Plunderer off of the bench.

Next Game: Saturday at the 76ers
If we go 1-9, I think I'll find that I have no mouth and I must scream. Our mater predicter had the right point differential, but he was 21 points behind on both scores. Still, that's somewhat good!

Okay, now that's what I like to see! :-D

Friday, November 14, 2008

Game 9 Pregame: Thunder at Knicks

Mike D'Antoni: Creepiest Coach in All of Sports

And the slaughter continues....

The Thunder are going up against a team that has for the past 5 years been an NBA doormat. In the United States biggest television market and with a storied franchise history behind them, it would take a complete nutjob to screw them up. Those nutjobs are Jim Dolan and Isiah Thomas. Dolan is the owner, a traditional Daddys rich boy son ho knows absolutely nothing about running a basketball franchise. The latter, Thomas, is a former Point Guard who won the Pistons a Championship back in the 80s. The recipe for a good coach, right? Well, not when he goes to great lengths to trade for selfish point guards and lazy centers and can't coach them out of a closet. Luckily, he left the team at the end of last year, with the entire city of New York hating him and his players.

Enter Mike D'Antoni. He is the 04-05 Coach of the Year, and is largely attributed for the popularization of small ball. (Don Nelson invented it, but it never caught on until D'Antoni.) D'Antoni basically braught the Suns to national championship contenders every year. But, he always fell short, so Suns management saw a need to change things up. Thus, they traded Shawn Marion for Shaquille O'Neal, probably one of the worst moves ever. The suns were a first round out, and D'Antoni was quite unjustly fired by the power hungry GM, Steve Kerr. D'Antoni then got offers from the Bulls and Knicks. He took, to everyones surprise, the Knicks.

So, we come to today. The Knicks are a team full of lazy, selfish players that New York hates, and wants to get rid of, and everyone predicts them in the area of 20-25 wins. But....the D'Antoni magic struck. He benched Eddy Curry, who came to training camp having gained a lot of weight, and benched Stephon Marbury, a Point Guard known for hogging the ball and taking bad shots. Lo and behold, the Knicks are 5-3, and the City of New York is loving it.

Backstory: The Thunder are going to have to pull out all of the stops in order to win tonight. D'Antoni is going to wanto to run up and down the floor, and kill us with his teams athleticism. In order for the Thunder to win tonight, they're going to have to control the pace of the game. Slow the game down, set the pick n' roll, don't throw up lazy shots.

Defensively, they'll have to keep it tight on the perimeter. Jamal Crawford and Quentin Richardson aren't afraid to throw it up if need be. At the same time, they have to keep aware of the inside scoring of Randolph and Lee. We shouldn't have too much of a problem with this aspect of it though, as we have a trememndous height advantage on them.

Basically, if you force them into bad shots on the perimeter, you should be good against this Knick team.

Earl Watson vs. Chris Duhon
Edge: Push

Chris Duhon is a good point guard in his own right, but he's spent his entire career behind Kirk Hinrich on Chicago until this season. At the same time, Earl Watson has played well lately, but can have off nights. It's really anybodys guess who comes out on top.

Kevin Durant? vs. Jamal Crawford
Edge: Durant

Both have equally bad shooting percentages, but Durant is far better defensively, and he can rebound and drive better.

Jeff Green vs. Quentin Richardson
Edge: Quentin Richardson
Quentin Richardson was once considered to be a borderline All-Star, but since then, he's basically been a bust. He's about at the same level as Jeff Green is now, except he's probably a better outside shooter. So the advantage goes to him.

Nick Collison vs. Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph had a bad year last year, but he appears to be picking things up. Finally out of his pot smoking jailblazer days, this guys is a scoring and rebounding force every night. Nick Collison is largely on and off.

Johan Petro vs. David Lee
Edge: David Lee

David Lee is an excellent rebounder, and Johan Petro is excellent at being completely average. David Lee was the diamond in the rough for the past couple of years for the Knicks, and I think he easily outmatches Trash-o.

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Thunder

Because of D'Antonis statements to some of the Knick players, their bench is very thin. The Thunders bench, on the other hand, is ready to replace any player in the starting lineup with someone slightly less crappy in a hearatbeat, and might as well go 12 men deep. D'Antoni would have to see all of the eligible players carried out on a stretcher before he played Curry or Marbury.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Knicks

I'm not a fan of D'Antoni, but I've got to give him credit for the Knicks rebirth.

Player to Watch: Joe Smith. This veteran should have no problem trashing the big man midgets of New York.

I'm not qualified to do this, so I'll defer to my main man, Ben, for this last section.
God of Thunder's Pick: Knicks 95 Thunder 85

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Game 8 Recap: Orlando 109, Oklahoma City 92


Yahoo! Box Score

What can I say? It was quite an unforgettable performance by the Thunder, who were the biggest under-dog in the NBA last night and were able to back it up with a sound thrashing. I mean, all you have to know to grasp the beating was 1) Kevin Durant didn't play, 2) Dwight Howard had his first career triple double, and 3) Both Steven Hill and Mouhamed Sene were in the game.

The whole game is kind of a blur to be honest with you. It was all the same, from start to finish really, thorough domination of the Thunder all the way through. Kevin Durant playing would have made no difference at all. Talent-wise, the Magic dominate us and Dwight Howard was playing like a man possessed. Who really has a triple-double on blocks anymore? Ha, well, Dwight Howard apparently. Without Kevin Durant, this really isn't even an NBA team.

Really, the game itself isn't really worth talking about, even. We all know how the Thunder vomit all over themselves night in and night out; and this game is just more than that times 10. However, one positive of KD not playing is that it takes a shadow off the rest of the team's players. Let's see what we've learned about his anonymous team mates...

If any sort of positive can be drawn from this, it's that we now know that Jeff Green is legit. He was the leading Thunder scorer in the game and despite being the team's new number one option was able to continue his efficient shooting. I used to think that KD was the only real "cornerstone" the Thunder had to work with, everyone else being expendable. Now, I think that Jeff Green can be thought of in the same regard.

What did we learn about Desmond Mason as a starter? Well, we learned he was certainly suitable for the role when called upon. His performance was somewhat redeeming for last games Thunder Blunder caliber play. Still, he should stick to the bench, the only starter who needs replacement is Petro.

What did we learn about Russel Westbrook receiving extended minutes. Well, we learned he can do a variety of things on the floor, with 5 rebounds and four assists. He certainly hasn't gotten any better shooting from the field, but this is somewhat misleading as his offensive style is one where he tries to draw the foul. And in that regard, he was finally able to make his free throws, shooting 8-9.

What did we learn about Damien Wilkins, who finally got extended minutes for the first time since the Pre-Season? Well, uh, I guess we found out it wasn't the pre-season anymore. 2 points off 1-6 shooting and 4 boards. All that in a hefty 18 minutes of play.

Robert Swift's new 'do didn't help his offensive game any

And lastly, what did we learn about the useless 7 footers on our roster? Well, we were able to confirm that they suck. Hill, Sene, and Swift combined for about 24 minutes last night, for a combined 6 points, 12 rebounds, 0 assists, and 2 blocks. Even if you throw Johan Petro's 8 points and 2 rebounds in there, that's still combined for far less that one man (Dwight Howard) had for the magic tonight.

So, for tonight's Thunder Wonder, I'm going with the guy I praised earlier, Jeff Green. 25 points of 7-18 shooting, 10 rebounds, 3-6 from downtown, 8-10 free throws. He is clearly the second best offensive option on this team.

Thunder Down Under is...not Joe Smith for once! No, instead tonight we're going with Desmond Mason, getting some sweet redemption. He had 12 points off 5-11 shooting and 2 rebounds. Obviously couldn't fill the void that KD left, but not a bad performance by any stretch.

Thunder Blunder? God, just pick a player at random and you could almost certainly make a case for it. Sadly I'm going to go with Damien Wilkins. He certainly hasn't played up to potential this year, that is, when he plays at all. Like I said earlier, only 2 points and 1-6 field goals.

I'll give you three guesses at tonight's Thunder Plunderer. J.J. Reddick? Nope. Adonal Foyle? Sorry Zorgon, not him either. Dwight Howard? YEAH! Comeon, one of the best games in what is sure to be a fabulous career for the center. 30 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots! He was a man among boys last night.

Next Game: Nov. 14 at the Knicks

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Game 8 Pregame: Magic at Thunder

The Thunder continue their marathon with tonight's game against the Orlando Magic. It should definitely be a tough test for Oklahoma City, as the Orlando Magic are one of the better teams from the East and probably the best in their division. They'll bring a tad of starpower tonight, with Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, and last years most improved player Hedo Turkoglu. OKC, on the other hand, will have little to no star power tonight, as Kevin Durant will be a game time decision. Without KD, who's got the best name recognition? Joe Smith? Oh well, names don't win championships. It takes teamwork, defense, and talent. Oh wait, we don't have any of that either...

Backstory: What do the Thunder and Coke cans have in common. The both are crushed under pressure. OKC couldn't keep a lead to save their lives. Fortunately, they shouldn't have to worry about that tonight, because Orlando is far superior, especially without KD. Last I checked, all Orlando starters are averaging over 10 points per game, while the Thunder have yet to find someone to consistently drop over 10, aside from Jeff Green and the Great Longhorned One.

With or without KD, it makes no difference. Aside from last nights insanely good performance, Kevin Durant as been throwing bricks like they were made of tacks. It'll defintiely take some MAGIC, for the Thunder to win tonight (ok, that was bad, I know).

Earl Watson vs. Jameer Nelson
Edge: Nelson

I loved this guy back at St. Joe's, and was secretly cheering for him in the Elite 8 while they were playing OSU (I say secretly because my brothers a Cowboy fan). The Hawks dropped that game, but there's no way Jameer loses this one. His assist number are down somewhat, but hey, who doesn't beat Watson?

Kevin Durant? vs. Mickeal Pietrus
Edge: Durant

Well, if he plays, he has the edge. If he doesn't, and Russ Westbrook or Desmond Mason gets the start, Pietrus should handle them defensively and get the edge.

Jeff Green vs. Hedo Turkoglu
Edge: the Turk

He's got such a versatile game. Height, shooting, driving, rebounding. Jeff Green will give him a game, but Turkoglu gets the definite advantage.

Nick Collison vs. Rashard Lewis
Edge: Lewis

Rashard plays all over the court, so he shouldn't be in the power forward slot for too long. Dito everything I said praising Hedo for Rashard, except moreso.

Johan Petro vs. Dwight Howard
Edge: Howard

Let's see...the best center in the NBA or the lowest scoring Thunder starter? I'm noticing a trend of mismatches at this position. Note to Sam Presti: GET A CENTER WHO'S AS TALENTED AS HE IS TALL FOR ONCE!

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Magic

I'll say Orlando. The Thunder have the best bench player of the bunch, but nobody else is doing well. The Magic don't rely on their bench very much, but at least it isn't full of flops like OKC.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Magic

Despite a crowd that's sure to be pumped for the game, Stan Van Gundy is a better coach and the Thunder have no momentum going into the game.

Player to Watch: No KD, eh? Here's a stretch, how about Robert Swift for tonight's player to watch. When facing a player like Dwight Howard, I'm sure P.J. will look to get a center more physical than Petro on the floor.

God of Thunder's Pick: Magic 102 Thunder 87

Robert Swift eats babies

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Game 7 Recap: Indiana 107 Oklahoma City 99

The only thing KD needed to do to improve his shooting percentage was adjust his style. Jeff Foster seems to like it.
Yahoo! Box Score

Better late than never, they always say. Yes, I know, I'm not Zorgon, which means I have big shoes to fill (both literally and figuratively). But, hopefully I can live up to his greatness just this once...

So, now you get to hear about yet another epic OKC Thunder collapse! At one point in the first quarter, the Thunder found themselves ahead by 15 points, a lead that had even God of Thunder considering a career change. But did anyone, honestly, expect it to last? I think it would be a valid point that not that many Thunder players even expected it to last. And did not...

After closing that epic first quarter with a decent 34-24 lead, OKC was able to follow up with a 24-17 thumping in the second quarter. Maybe head coach P.J. had just a little too much confidence in this team's lead, as evidenced by the 12 minutes he gave Robert Swift. To his credit, Swift had a fantastic game considering the amount of time he spent on the floor. Why are we so quick to play this guy when Damien Wilkins sees no time at all? Sometimes P.J.'s subs seem a tad erratic, ala last night with Robert Swift, ala the Celtics game with Kyle Weaver. Not that these guys should never see the light of day, just that we don't need to be playing them when the game's close. Trust me, the Thunder will See it's fair share of blow-outs this year.

The talk of Robert Swift reminds me of a Brian Davis moment last night. During the game, Robert Swift had one almost block, ONE, which prompted Brian Davis to say "The Pacers are going to have a hard time getting shots like that when a guy like Robert Swift is on the floor." What? Where the hell did that come from? If Robert Swift was that great at establishing an impregnable defense inside the paint, don't you think he'd be starting over Johan Poopo?

Of course, the Thunder would continue on to not win another quarter, and finish with a decent beat down, not too bad, but it wasn't really close. It wasn't exactly a rockin' crowd, only some 10,000 showed up at Conseco Fieldhouse. I mean comeon, who wouldn't want to see the amazing Thunder-Dults in action?!?! Oh, and as a side note, Johan Petro made his first free throws of the season, in fact, he was 2-2, making him 100% on the year.

So, time for some awards.

Thunder Wonderof the night goes to Kevin Durant, much to the dismay of Zorgon. There's really no denying it though. The guy had 37 points off of 13-27 shooting, 2-3 from three-point land, 9-9 from the charity stripe, and 8 rebounds, by far making his best game of the season.

What should make Zorgon happy though, is Joe Smith coming through as Thunder Down Under. He played the second least minutes, but still had 12 points of 6-8 shooting and 5 rebounds. He has definitely been the Thunder's best option off the bench thus far this season.

Desmond Mason was tonight's clear cut Thunder Blunder. Get this, 2 points with no field goals, 2-4 free throws, 1 technical foul, and a foul out. Somehow I missed the technical, or else I would elaborate upon it. Still, anytime you don't make a shot, you know you're going to have a good shot (no pun intended) at making Thunder Blunder

To conclude the night's awards, I'm giving the Thunder Plunderer title to T.J. Ford. The guard shot 10-19 with 24 points, 10 assists, and was only 3 rebounds short (7) of completing a triple-double. His talents are wasted on a sub-par team, but I still think he's under-rated at point guard.

Next Game: Thunder at Magic

Monday, November 10, 2008

Game 7 Pregame: Thunder at Pacers

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
Edge: KD

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
Edge: Granger

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
Edge: T-Murph

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: Foster
The 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
Edge: Thunder

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
Edge: Pacers

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

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Game 6 Recap: Atlanta 89, Oklahoma City 85

Nick Collison tried some Kung Fu tonight, but he ended up just as stinky as me, with only 2 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Yahoo! Box Score

Before I get into the game, I committed a cardinal sin at the Ford Center Today: Being stinky.

Basically, I woke up today around 4 or so, and didn't do much before I went to the game. I didn't even think about how I hadn't showered. Big mistake. I go to the game and two people to the right of me left for better seats I didn't supect anything, until the end of the 1st, when somebody notified me that everybody around me was noticing my stink, and that I shouldn't jump around like that if I stunk so bad. Now, I'm all about letting the fans enjoy their experience, so I promptly left. No hard feelings to everybody around me. Probably the most embarassing moment of my life. But, the guy with the Brick mask was back (and sitting right in front of me) so he made up for me. I'll be back next time though. Yes, I'll be showered. Sorry if that was too much information for some of you folks. But, on to the game.

Man, what a game I missed. The first quarter was really really ugly. The Thunder kept shooting ill-advised midrangers with the Hawks right up in their grill. Luckily, the Hakws were only faring slightly better. Once the Thunder pounded it inside (like I was advising the whole time), things got better. After a slammin 2nd quarter that I didn't see, it was back and forth the whole game.

The end of the 4th saw our hopes crushed. The Hawks jumped out to a quick lead, and we almost free throwed our way back into it....until Earl Watson missed an essential layup that would have had us down by only 2 with a few seconds back. Ben had a good predicting day again, being only 4 points off of the actual score. You go, man!

Lastly, tonight was the debut of Robert Swift, courtesy of the Chris Wilcox injury. I'm glad we have Swift and Sene, becuse they can easily step in capably should one of our bigs get hurt. The same can't be said if our guards are hurt, as the only real backups they have are Kyle Weaver and Damien Wilkins. If our Point Guard is hurt, I smell trouble. But I digress. I hope Weezy is okay, as he was doing pretty well with 2 points and 2 boards before he went down. Swift looked okay, with 2 points and 3 boards. Well, his performace looked okay, but I had a hard time believing that he was the same guy who fouled out at the Hornets-Sonics game 2 years ago. He looked so....different back then.

Sadly, Joe Smith had his best performance of the season while I wasn't there. He almost had a double double with 14 points and 9 rebounds. He only shot 3-10, but he more than made up for it, shooting 8-10 from the free throw line. He really pulled through in the final seconds of this game, getting fouled at crucial times and grabbing critical rebounds. Thus, he gets tonights Thunder Wonder.

The Thunder Down Under award goes to Earl Watson. He would have gotten the Wonder award had he not missed that last layup. Still, he shot 5-11, went 1-2 from 3 point territory, had 11 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds, and only had 2 turnovers. These past two games Earl has really pulled through. He has started to create ball movement (rather than just dribbling it at the top of the key) and has had some hustle plays that have really put him over the shadow of Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder Blunder award goes easily to Jeff Green. 37 Minutes, 3-12 Field Goals, 1-4 3 Pointers, 9 Points, 8 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Turnovers, and 1 Steal. He did better than Kevin Durants whopping 6 turnovers, but 25% shooting is just inexusable. A lot of his ill-advised shots just may have killed it for the Thunder early on tonight.

On the Flip (Murray) side, it's hard pinpointing one performance. Everyone was equally bad in their production. Thus, the Thunder Plunderer award goes to Joe Johnson by default. 25 Points, 9-25 Shooting, 3-6 3 Point Shooting, 4-6 Freethrow Shooting, 2 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 4 Turnovers, 4 Steals, and 1 Block round out a full stat sheet for Mr. JJ.

Overall, a par for the course night fo the Thunder.

Next Game: Monday at the Pacers. Prepare for some Murphy Madness.

Game 6 Pregame: Hawks at Thunder

Perhaps the first toss-up of the season. Yeah, the Atlanta Hawks were a playoff team last year, but they were still the 8th seeded team in the Eastern bracket with a sub-.500 record. That being said, they still almost knocked off a team in the first round that would turn out to be the eventual champs and still finished leaps and bounds better than the the then-Sonics, who were one of the worst teams in the league. All things considered, though the Hawks are stocked with fantasy hoops front-runners like Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, we should be in for a slug-fest tonight in Bricktown.

Backstory: The Thunder found themselves in a seemingly insurmountable hole last-time against Utah only to close valiantly to make the game seem respectable. If they want to beat the 4-0 Hawks tonight, they're going to have to avoid a sluggish start against a Hawks team who, at times, can be offensively explosive. Also, when, if ever, will shooting on this team improve? They're shooting 41.1% from the field (not something to be proud of), 38.3% from downtown (not too bad, but keep in mind only 5 Thunder players have even attempted a 3, and KD is 1/6 this season), and 72.3% from the free throw line (definitely should be improved upon, and somehow in some paradoxical conundrum, our starting Center, Petro, has yet to even attempt a FT. That's not a good sign)

Earl Watson vs. Mike Bibby
Edge: Bibby

Mike Bibby isn't what he was a few years ago, but Earl's game hasn't been anywhere near even productive, underachieving in nearly every statistical category and the worst shooting stats for a player with any decent amount of minutes.

Kevin Durant vs. Joe Johnson
Edge: Johnson

Sorry Thunder fans, but Joe is simply having a better season thus far. 25 PPG and shooting 42.1% from beyond the arch, that's pretty impressive.

Jeff Green vs. Maurice Evans
Edge: Green

Normally, this would be a Smith/Green match-up, in which I'd easily go with Smith. Evans is a decent player in his own right, but he certainly doesn't bring anything to the table that Jeff Green doesn't already. On top of that, Jeff Green has been the second most reliable scorer on the Thunder thus far.

Nick Collison vs. Marvin Williams
Edge: Collison

Marvin Williams has always been a model for inconsistent play in the NBA. Not that Collison is a rock, but you never know what Marvin you're going to see, even though the past couple of games he has looked good.

Johan Petro vs. Al Horford
Edge: Horford

Horford was much better at grabbing boards and scoring last season, but still he's only a couple of each away from averaging a double-double.

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Thunder

The excellent play of Desmond Mason and Joe Smith needs to carry-over to tonight if the Thunder want a chance at beating a play-off team.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Thunder

Though it's always hard to get very pumped when the Hawks come to town, the Ford Center is almost always rockin'. It's a stark contrast to the crowd the Hawks are accustomed to, as their city is wrapped up in Georgia 'Dawg football and the resurgent Atlanta Falcons.

Player to Watch: How 'bout Zorgon's boy Joe Smith? His offensive game has picked up recently and, surprisingly enough, is leading the team in FG%. He should provide a spark off the bench against a Hawks team that isn't very deep down low.

God of Thunder's Pick: Hawks lose the glue of their team, Smith, so Thunder pull off some OKC magic: Thunder 90 Hawks 88

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Game 5 Recap: Utah 104, Oklahoma City 97

This is Russell Westbrooks "Sexy" look. P.J. Carlesimo is simply stunned by it's greatness.
Yahoo! Box Score

While the score was much higher than our master predictor had anticipated, the result was still the same.

This game started off with a 8-0 Thunder lead. That's right, an 8-0 THUNDER lead. Then, it turned into a 10-3 Thunder lead. Then, it all went straight to heck.

Don't look so sad, Jerry! Zorgon just gave you props!

Honestly, someone could have a bunch of bums play under Jerry Sloan, and they'd do well. Jerry Sloan has such control over his players, it's unbelievable. While this doesn't make him the most popular coach ever, this leads to wins. The sheer fact that his team performed just as well against us without Deron Williams really says something. While I would never, ever play for him, here's to Jerry Sloan and his 1000 super-jazzy wins. While I hate the current iteration of your team, you we're definately fun to watch getting beat down in the 1996 and 1997 Finals.

Anyway, back to the game. The second half of the first quarter and the second quarter were downright painful to watch if you were a Thunder fan. Just absolute destruction. No more needs to be said.

But, during halftime, something happened. The team came back fighting a 30+ point deficit. Grant Long dismissed it as "They realized that they have to play this team 3 more times this year." Well, it was much more than that. They were trying to win. Lead by spectacular performances from Desmond Mason and Kevin Durant, the team stormed back to single digits in the 4th quarter before the Jazz realized that they had to win. Nevertheless, scoring more than you did in the first two quarters combined in both the 3rd and 4th quarter definately makes a statement.

Look, I know that we're 1-4, and I know that things are looking grim, but we are not, I repeat, are not, playing like a young team. We have been in every single game so far, including against the world champion Boston Celtics. We have been competetive not just in the 1st and 2nd quarter, but in the 3rd and 4th quarters. We have dug ourselves out of huge holes. I may be crazy, but I think we can win over 35 games if we can get our act together. Just a few points this way or that way, and we're 3-2. Just throwing that out there.

On the Jazz side of the ball, nobody was better than Carlos Boozer. 21 Points, 7-14 Shooting, 9 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 1 Steal, and 1 Block all amount to a very excellent night. You always hear of a guard vying for a triple double, but when a Power Forward gets this close, it's pretty spectacular and says a lot about the man in general. Thus, he gets the Thunder Plunderer Award tonight.

On the Thunder side of the ball, Desmond Mason led the huge comeback against the Jazz in the 3rd and refused to be benched. Until this game, he was arguably the least efficient and least productive player on our roster. Reguardless, his rapid turnaround of 18 Points, 7-14 Shooting, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal, and 1 Block earns him the Thunder Wonder award tonight.

After Desmond, the obvious choice for Thunder Down Under is Kevin Durant. He actually hit his shots tonight, going 9-15 shooting for 14 points. His clutch shooting helped almost as much as Masons did. On top of that, he had a solid 5 Rebounds, 3 Assists, and 1 Steal. Shoutout to Jeff Green with 22 Points, 6-13 Shooting, 3-3 3 Pointers, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, and 3 Steals.

Playing like a complete embarassment tonight and earning the Thunder Blunder award was Chris Wilcox. When you're a big man, 1-7 Shooting doesn't cut it under any circumstances. A -16 +/- ratio, 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal, and a whopping 3 Turnovers capped off 22 minutes of hell for Wilcox.

Next Game: Sunday vs the Atlanta Hawks

Friday, November 7, 2008

Game 5 Pregame: Thunder at Jazz

The Jazz have 4 wins in 4 games even without Deron Williams. The Thunder have 3 Losses in 4 games. These are obviously two teams headed in polar opposite directions. Playing at the Lake doesn't help either. God of Thunder does not like their chances tonight. In fact, God of Thunder hasn't been this sure about a game all year. So, get ready for some gloom and doom as yet another Thunder loss is broken down for you.

Backstory: OKC hits the road again, where they're winless this year. Not that the Ford Center has been too nice, but at least it gives them a little more mo' down the stretch, and they'd know that Super-Fan Zorgon would have their backs. It's true that the Jazz will be without Team USA member Deron Williams, but they got plenty of talent outside of that, and how many players anywhere close to Olympic level do the Thunder have? And don't say Kevin Durant. Just because I made an article that said he'd be there next time doesn't mean he's at the level he'll be at 4 years from now.

Ronnie Price vs. Earl Watson
Edge: Lil Earl

The Price is wrong in this match-up. Who is Ronnie Price, anyway? Some may be saying the same thing in Utah about Watson, but last year this guy averaged only 3.7 points and 1.3 assists. Earl Watson is obviously superior.

C.J. Miles vs. Kevin Durant
Edge: KD

Has there been a bigger rematch this season. C.J. Miles is very fortunate to be seeing the floor, due mostly to the injuries of AK-47 and D-Will. KD will light this guy up, until they finally bench him for Korver, then KD will light HIM up.

Ronnie Brewer vs. Jeff Green
Edge: Brewer

This was nearly a draw, but I gave the edge to Brewer. He frequently scores in the double digits and takes it to the rack pretty well. Stats are pretty comparable, so really this could go either way.

Carlos Boozer vs. Nick Collison
Edge: Boozer

This one's easy. C-Booz fills the Mailman's shoes nicely, and even if we combined Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox to make some freaky hybrid PF, it'd still be close.

Mehmet Okur vs. Johan Petro
Edge: Okur

Recently, Okur has been way off. Still, a way off Okur is way more productive than Petro. Okur on the inside, Okur on the outside, it won't matter, I think he'll have one of his better nights of the season thus far tonight.

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Thunder

Maybe without the Jazz injuries, it'd be closer. Still, I don't think the Jazz bench is anything to gawk at. Korver is a great sixth man, but the Thunder have several solid guys coming off the bench, including Joe Smith, Desmond Mason, and Westbrook.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Jazz

We're at EnergySolutions Arena, which is going to be tough on it's own, not to mention facing Jerry Sloan, who is so superior to P.J. it isn't even funny.

Player to Watch: Kevin Durant. Should be able to eat up Miles. Korver even more so. If they put Ronie Brewer on him, which they probably will, it'll be a little more of a challenge, but still expect them to feed Durant the ball late, as they should be trailing.

God of Thunder's Pick: Jazz 98, Thunder 85

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Game 4 Recap: Boston 96, Oklahoma City 83

Somebody forgot to tell PJ it wasn't 80s night. Still, I wish I had that jacket-tie combo.

Well, the master picker strikes again. His 95-81 prediction was only off by a total of 3 points. Again, why go anywhere else?

So, The Thunder played valiantly tonight. And, what's better, they didn't look like the typical "young team" at all. Let me elaborate.

The first quarter was epic. We lead the Celtics almost all the way through, and even though they didn't look stunned, the fans sure were happy. The 2nd and 3rd quarter saw our lead slowly diminish into a 12-17 point deficit. But, unlike most young teams, who completely give up in the 4th, we stayed strong. In fact, a couple more defensive stops, and the game might've been ours.

But when it's all said and done, the Celtics just had better ball movement. They usually did one of two things: 1. Kick it out to Ray Allen/any other sharpshooter. 2. Make a gaping hole in the centre of the lane and watch the generally quicker Celtics make an easy layup.

On top of that, our big men were really mismatched. Joe Smith is known for his hustle, rebounding, and offense, but his defense is slightly below par. And he was getting burned by Kevin Garnett all night. Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox didn't far much better. Johan Petro tried his best, but he was getting scored on down low even by Kendrick Perkins. If the Thunder tried to double team, the other team would just pass it to the other big man for an easy two. Not a good picture.

The face of confidence.

The small men were equal in driving, but Ray Allen and Paul Pierce could shoot 3s, unlike our plethora of non-shooting small men. Even if our guys could shoot 3s, it wasn't helped by the fact that we were giving heavy minutes to Earl Watson. Earl Watson is sometimes notorious for bad jumpshots or ill-concieved drives to the basket. Rajon Rondo, on the other hand, is known for his excellent defense and slick passing. Is the picture becoming slightly clearer now?

Paul Pierce is satisfied because nobody takes pictures of any Celtic but him Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.

All of that being said, tonight really was an off night for the Celtics. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce both shot terribly, and Kevin Garnett just didn't look like the dominating force he usually is. Rajon Rondo did what he uaually does and was extremely efficent with 100% field goals and 11 assists, but tonights Thunder Plunderer has to go to Leon Powe. With 11 Points, 3-6 Shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and a +18 +/- ratio in 18 minutes, he really helped out his team tonight. He was a big reason that the Celtics took a commanding lead in the 3rd, and it was clear he was giving it his all while everybody else looked lackluster or disinterested.

On the Thunder side of the ball, nobody deserves the Thunder Wonder Award. I'm serious, nobody. This is partially because today was mostly a defensive effort and partially because almost everybody had a horrible day offensively. But, it has to be given to someone, so here goes. The only people who might even remotely deserve it are Earl Watson, Johan Petro, Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith, and Desmond Mason. Desmond Mason had a horrible +/- ratio, so he's out. Johan Petro was extremely efficent offensively (4-5) but he totally sucked defensively and had a measly 1 rebound, so he's out. Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith performed almost identically, but neither of them quite up to the standard of Earl Watson, who is tonights Thunder Wonder. 7 Points, 7 Rebounds, and 5 Assists sounds like a typical Mike Dunleav, Jr. scoring line, but not for a 6' 1" Point guard. He couldn't do much offensively, but his sheer amount of heart, hustle, and hardwood gets Earl Watson the Thunder Wonder Award tonight. This is the first time this season he's really outperformed Russell Westbrook, so he should be proud.

The Thunder Down Under award then, by logic, goes to either Wilcox (5 Points, 2-5 Shooting, 8 Rebounds) or Smith (9 Points, 4-9 Shooting, 5 Rebounds). Trying to decide is pretty much splitting hairs. It's all a matter of if rebounds or points matter more. The thing is, I think that Joe Smith came through in more critical times. He had some pretty fancy shots in the 4th, and one of his missed shots was a halftime lob. Still, he forced himself into bad one-on-one situations, and, again, got torched defensively by Garnett. But, in the end, Wilcox missed a freethrow, Smith got the same amount of offensive rebounds, and Wilcox was torched equally as bad defensively. So, the Thunder Down Under Award goes to Joe Smith.

Now, the Thunder Blunder. For me, it's between Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison. Now, you may be saying "But Russell Westbrook got 13 points!" Well, 6 of those were meaningless. He hit 2 meaningless, undefended 3s at the end of the game. Now, his stats, instead of being 13 Points, 4-13 Shooting, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, and 1 Steal, it's 7 Points, 2-11 shooting, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, and 1 Steal. A whole lot less impressive, huh? Still, his lack of assists are made up by his rebounds, which are almost as many as Nick Collison had (6). On top of that, Nick Collison played 5 more minutes, and was only 1-6 of the floor for 2 points. While 2 blocked shots are impressive, they're not enough to keep Nick Collison away from tonight's Thunder Blunder.

Next Game: Friday at the Utah Jazz

Lets prepare for another beatdown.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Game 4 Pregame: Celtics at Thunder

They have it. We want it. But we can't have it. The next best thing to actually winning the championship is beating the championship team. Well, actually I suppose it's making it to the finals; but seeing as how we have no chance of making the playoffs, this is as close as we can get. And what better chance do we have at capturing the epic upset than here in now legendary "Loud City?" Do I think it'll happen tonight? Ha, not even close! But hey, can't wait to see the Big Ticket take the court again.

Backstory: The Thunder suck. Really, the Celtics represent everything we're not. 1) Talented. KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce. KD, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox. See the difference? 2) Team Chemistry and Leadership. Ray Allen is a solid vet, KG is using this opportunity to build his legacy, and Pierce is, of course, the Cap'N. Who leads our team? Joe Smith? Plus team's way too young to build any chemistry. 3) They're winners. Like I said earlier, they got rings, we don't.

Earl Watson vs. Rajon Rondo
Edge: Rondo

I'm in the school of thought that says that all the talent around him makes Rondo appear better. Still, a solid defender, good driver, and has freakishly large hands.

Kevin Durant vs. Ray Allen
Edge: KD

Allen has fallen off his game a tad since he left Seattle, and I think that KD will generally fill up the stat sheet a lot more.

Jeff Green vs. Paul Pierce
Edge: Pierce

This one ain't close at all. In my humble opinion, which happens to be shared by Danny Ainge, when Pierce is on his game, it's really hard to find someone anybody. There's always going to be a player just as good of course, but if you told the Celtics they could swap him for LeBron, I think they'd stay where they are now.

Nick Collison vs. Kevin Garnett
Edge: KG

Wilcox matches up much better, but in all likelihood he'll be coming off the bench again. Theres no one on the team who'll ever be as good as KG, so don't feel bad about losing this match-up.

Johan Petro vs. Kendrick Perkins
Edge: Perkins

Neither of these players are great, maybe borderline ok at best. Like Rondo though, the presence of the Big 3 takes a lot of pressure off Perk so just because of that, he's better.

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Draw

Theres nothing that spectacular about the Celtics bench. They have some nice players; Big Baby, Sam Cassel, Eddie House, but nothing special. Still, they're efficient. Same goes for Thunder, who get a big boost from Weezy.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Celtics

I'm not a big believer in Doc Rivers' coaching prowess, I think he's a benefactor from some great trades. Still, how many championships does P.J. have?

Player to Watch: I think Weezy off the bench is a safe pick. Really, the Thunder will need to rely on him and Durant if they have any hope of keeping it reasonable.

Predicted Result: Hmmmmmm, the God of Thunder says Celtics 95, Thunder 81

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thunder cuts ties with Lucas, sign Hill

To the dismay of many Okie State fans, I'm sure, John Lucas III has been waived by the Thunder. From a state perspective, it's too bad because you'd like to see a guy who meant so much to a final four team do well with the new pride-and-joy of OKC. From a basketball point of view, I suppose it was a business move. It was nice that they gave Lucas a chance, but apparently they felt satisfied with where they were at guard at the time and felt they needed to add depth to the frontcourt...

Which brings us to new big man Steven Hill. You know him as the hippie-guy who used to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He's a former SEC Defensive Player of the Year and he's got a good deal of athleticism down low. I'd basically compare him to a white Joakim Noah (oddly enough that Defensive Player of the Year award of Hill's came during Noah's last year in college). Like Noah, he's very raw offensively. Still, if he plays like he did in college, we could have a solid stopper down low coming off the bench.

One can't help but notice Steven Hill's familiar appearance. He reminds everyone of a certain cartoon character we all used to know and love. But who is it...Elemer Fudd? No, that's not it. Yosemite Sam? No, not him either. Hey maybe it's...

Hmmm, still not convinced it's Shaggy, how about this one:

These comparisons to Scooby-Doo reminds us of a certain infamous character who's big, broad, and scary on the outside and a menacing master of thievery on the inside...that's right, Clay Bennett! Oh, and this Scooby-Doo villain guy, too:

Vote Today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Game 3 Recap: Oklahoma City 88, Minnesota 85

Halloween may be over, but Pumpkin pictures are cool year 'round!

Before I start this recap, let me just iterate the genius of my partner in crime. Okluschen (Ben Luschen) of Blue Blitz predicted the score of this game....EXACTLY. Exactly right. Why even go to other sites at all now? You might as well just forget it, captain. We got the experts up here in this crib.

The game tonight was awesome for Thunder fans. The presentation? Not so much. Now that all of the shine and glimmer of the home opener is gone, one realizes just how paper thin the game entertainment is. The drumline (by far my favourite part of the overall presentation) wasn't used during team introductions, and was only used once the entire game. During timeouts, the team really didn't have much to show. There was the Midfirst bank shot contest, but aside from that the entertainment mostly consisted either of looking at crazy fans or watching the emcee give free stuff to some guy who probably paid to get on camera. The music during the game was also horrible. Most of it just contisted of playing "Charge", "De-Fense", or "Everybody clap your hands". I swear, I think I'll have to kill whoever keeps playing "Everybody clap your hands". I mean, they played it literally 6 times, and thqat was only when I counted! Get something new! I think I'll get sick of Thunderstruck by the time the season is through, too.

Presentation aside, you've gotta love this game. The first 3 quarters went by a specific formula. The Timberwolves would get off to a huge lead, make things look like same-old, same-old for the Thunder. Then, the Thunder would come storming back to tie it by the time the quarter ended. By the 4th, the Thunder had things figured out, and a defensive battle ensued.

Needless to say, we we killed by Al Jefferson. Things never seem to change in Minnesota, becuase if you changed "Al Jefferson" to "Kevin Garnett", "Mike Miller" to "Ricky Davis", and "Craig Smith" to "Mark Blount", you couldn't really tell the difference between now and back in the day. But I digress. Al Jefferson with 24 Points, 11-17 shooting, 13 Rebounds, and 1 block easily earns the Thunder Plunderer Award tonight.

On our side of the ball, Kevin Durant had another horrible night with 18 points on just 7-21 shooting. While Darnell Mayberry thinks that his shots will start going in, it's my opinion that we're going to see a lot of off nights this season. About 1 of every 3 games he'll perform, but otherwise he'll stink it up to the extreme and hurt the team. Jeff Green was a little bit more productive, but was hardly deserving of the award with 13 points on 6-14 Shooting. Ditto for Russell Westbrook with 14 points, 6-13 shooting and only 2 assists. Granted, he did play some SG today, but that was for a short period at the end of the game.

Still, nobody had a worse night tonight than our lovable Frenchman, Johan Petro. In 17 minutes he had 4 Points, 2-4 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and a -12 +/- ratio. The closest to him was Nick sollison at -6. He missed a couple of midrange jumpers tonight, and I really think he needs to get in the post more. Somebody give this man a lead pass! Or a screen! Here's hoping to better times, and more Thunder Blunderless nights, Johan,

Thus, the Thunder Wonder award has to go to Nick Collison. He didn't have a totally awesome performace, but he had a solid, liquid, and gas outing with 10 points, 4-8 shooting, 10 rebounds (7 offensive), 2 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. On top of that, he had a really awesome shot late in the 4th to put the Thunder up by 1, from which they never looked back. There's a reason they sell a "jersey shirt" for this guy.

The Thunder Down Under award is a tough one to decide. Whomever I give it to really doesn't deserve it. Since I'm infamous for hating inefficency, I'm going to give it to, you guessed it, Joe Smith. 6 Points, 3-4 Shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal all in 16 minutes. Early on he was getting burned a bit by Craig Smith, but it's nothing compared to the whopping that Jefferson was doing on Wilcox. He made a lot of hustle rebounds and recovering from steals in the mid 4th that really kept the Thunder in the game. Yeah, yeah, I know you guys are gonna call me a homer for this one.

Lastly, before I go, I'd really like to state that I miss Damien Wilkins. He's been getting next to none minutes, and appears to be stuck in Coach Carlesimos doghouse. Here's hoping he gets some minutes. His Pre-Season performance really makes him deserve a chance.

Next Game: Wednesday vs. The Boston Celtics

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Game 3 Pregame: Timberwolves at Thunder

At last, a winnable game. Really, if you're the Thunder, I don't want to say "must-win," but it would definitely be a disappointment if you didn't. I mean, the T-Wolves at home? If you can't win this game, what can you win? In the NBA, nothing is for certain, but you have to like your chances tonight.

Backstory: Unsurprisingly enough, the Thunder remain winless all-time in significant games. The sloppy play from the preseason seemed to carry over to the regular season. But Thunder fans, please don't be disappointed. We all know this team sucks. It's not about wins and loses though. It's about NBA basketball in OKC. So sit back tonight at the Ford Center, grab a beer, soda, hot dog, pizza, whatever, and thank Mick Cornett for bringing us a team.

Earl Watson vs. Randy Foye
Edge: Watson

This is a close match-up, neither player putting up the kind of numbers that absolutely blow you away. Earl Watson is at home, so I gave him the edge. There are times, really, where he looks pretty good. Neither of these point guards would be starting on a play-off team though, so definitely a lack-luster match-up.

Kevin Durant vs. Rashad McCants
Edge: KD
KD is the better scorer (though McCants is second on the 'Wolves in scoring thus far this season) and should be a handful against Rashad defensively, so I think this is a pretty decisive edge.

Jeff Green vs. Mike Miller
Edge: Miller

Well, if it were the Mike Miller of three or four years ago, this wouldn't even be close. Still, Mike's still got game and Jeff Green is arguably one of the weakest Thunder starters.

Nick Collison vs. Al Jefferson
Edge: Big Al

OK, so apparently Wilcox is coming off the bench this season. I guess I can live with that. Even if he was starting, I seriously doubt that he'd be able to beat Big Al out for the power forward match-up. This guy is for real. If he were in L.A., he'd be Andrew Bynum.

Johan Petro vs. Kevin Love
Edge: Love

He's only played a few games, but has been pretty efficient in them. Averaging 10 points and 6 boards, plus a danger from downtown. Plus, does Petro really win at anything in life?

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Thunder

Now that Wilcox isn't starting, the bench is much more solidified. Desmond Mason and Russ Westbrook give you good energy players off the bench at nearly every position.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Thunder
Props to my boyz in the Ford Center. Just keep doin what your doin.

Player to Watch: I say watch Earl Watson. He plays inconsistently, but I have a hunch he'll do well tonight. At least he'd better do well, or we'll have a hard time capturing victory.

Predicted Result: Thunder 88 Timberwolves 85

Game 2 Recap: Houston 89, Oklahoma City 77

KD was like a Globetrotter Tonight Box Score

This is kind of a quickie recap, as I only saw 50% of the game and am really tired.

This is another game in which the final score was not very telling.

The Thunder left it all on the floor tonight in a hostile environment against a team that both Ben and I predicted to win the NBA title this year. They almost had a lead going into halftime before the Rockets scored a quick basket to go up by 1. It was steady until somewhere in the 3rd, where the score quickly dropped off.

The reason? Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, and even more Kevin Durant. He went 11-20 for 26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals. That is more than enough to secure tonights Thunder Wonder. He will definately be on and off all season. Luckily, tonight he was on.

Aside from him, the team thrived on defense, and offensively productivity was very low. That's why I have to give tonights Thunder Down Under to Joe Smith. 20 minutes, 4-6 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 8 points, most of which were gotten during clutch moments where the Thunder needed to stay alive. He's definately going to be a big help when push comes to shove in clutch situations. Green and Petro were okay but not efficent. Earl Watson distributed really well tonight with 8 assists, but his scoring efficency was also dismally low.

The Rockets were also incredibly poor offensively tonight. Nobody really shined, and their top scorer at 22, McGrady, is the only player on the team to have a negative plus minus ratio. Yaos shooting (6-15) was abysmal for a big man, and his 16 point 11 rebound game don't make up for it when you're 7'6". Thus, the Thunder Plunderer award has to go to Carl Landry tonight. He had 27 minutes, 14 points, 6-11 shooting, 14 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals. Not a excellent line, but games like these never look pretty.

Watching this game made me realise that the Thunder are, in fact, not an average young team. Their ability to play defense really helps them keep things from getting out of hand for too long. If they can perfect this ability, they should learn to be able to keep the game in hand all game long, rather than blow huge leads like some teams would do (the 2005-2006 Warriors, for instance).

Anyway, our next matchup is tonight at 6 PM. I hope you're having an excellent weekend and had an excellent Halloween!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Game 2 Pre-Game: Thunder at Rockets

After being easily handeled by the Bucks, OKC hopes to rebound against the Rockets tonight, a task much easier said than done. Still, the NBA is where amazing happens, so don't rule it out. Likewise though...don't get your hopes up. This team is far superior to our own, and arguably one of the best in the league.

Backstory: Despite a full Ford Center, the Thunder were not able to punctuate opening night with a victory. Maybe the Thunder will turn out to be one of those road warrior teams that finds comfort in foreign arenas. OK, wishful thinking perhaps, but you never know. It would be wonderful if the first ever Thunder regular season victory was tonight in Houston. Being realitic though, we may have to wait untill Minnesota comes to town...or Boston!

Rafer Alston vs. Earl Watson
Edge: Alston

In my opinion, the street ball legend has the decisive offensive edge over Watson. Also, because his supporting cast is so much more talented, Alston doesn't need to concern himself as much with actually running the team and can spend more time making sure he contributes when needed.

Tracy McGrady vs. Kevin Durant
Edge: TMac

Let's not get ahead of ourselves now. Durant may be the team's best player, but he's no Tracy McGrady. TMac is usually, except when the Lakers are in town, the best shooting guard on the court. Tonight is no exception.

Ron Artest vs. Jeff Green
Edge: Artest

Another ridiclous match-up. Ron Artest is a proven defender, scorer, all-star, and fan puncher. Nothing about Jeff Green is proven. Some people (Jim Traber) say that there's all star potential in Green. Still, others question whether he should even be starting. Tonight should tell us a lot about who's right.

Luis Scola vs. Chris Wilcox
Edge: Weezy

Hey, I don't even know if Wilcox is going to start tonight...but he should be. At times he's the best player on the team, and if he plays to potential, which I'm optimistic (as always) that he will, he should easily outperfrom the overshadowed Scola.

Yao Ming vs. Nick Collison
Edge: Yao
Don't make me laugh. Nothing against Collison, but he's not even tall for a power forward. At center, and against Yao Ming no less? Pfft, there will be times where he may as well not even be there defensively.

Battle of the Benches
Edge: Rockets Bench

It's not even close. Rockets bench could give Thunder starters a good game. Shane Battier, Steve Francis, and Bobby Jackson off the pine? What do we got? DMase? Petro? Joe Smith masquerading as Rip Hamilton? Not really even comparable.

Coaching and Intangibles
Edge: Rockets

Both Adelman and Carlesimo are former Portland and Golden State coaches. Adelman, though, has made it to the Finals, where Carlesimo has never made it out of the first round. Then again, neither has McGrady. This isn't the playoffs though, so Rockets should coast.

Player to Watch: If you include the preseason, he's been a steady performer all season. So, no reason not to go with ole' relaible once more. Don't know why he didn't start the last game, not really a good reason. If P.J. sits him again, the fans won't be happy, not to mention Wilcox, who already has motivational problems.

Predicted Result: Rockets 110 Thunder 91