OK Suns fans, I'm not here to make you laugh today. I am here to talk about the hearts of men. I am here to talk about the championship spirit, the killer instinct, giving it 110% in the face of adversity. I'm here to talk about the love of the hardwood. Sorry, cut, forget it, the dramatic effect isn't working, and I'm lacking time to polish this up, so...I'll just keep this to the point:
There are some very compelling plot lines in this one tonight:
- Steve Nash is out, Goran Dragon Dragic is in. Yeah, he's the Dragon, and he's going head to head with Russell Westbrook. Goran, this is your time to shine. Fresh off your BSOTS Q&A, we have faith you're going to come out and kick some tail tonight.
- OKC: 9 wins in a row, shooting for 10 tonight. This squad has looked dominant, gritty, and humble? I quoteth Kevin Durant: "We continue to be humble, knowing that anytime a team can beat us. We're coming in with that mindset that we've got to be focused and be ready for each test that's ahead of us. We're kind of confident, but we're not too arrogant."
- This contest could have serious playoff implications for both teams. OKC currently sits in the 5 spot, a half game ahead of the Suns. The Thunder won the first match-up in December and play the next contest and last contest in April, again in OKC. Thanks, David Stern.
- Who are these Phoenix Suns? Sure the Thunder are playing great basketball, but the Suns haven't played too shabby, winning 8 of their last ten games. The big story has been the Suns defense the past two games, allowing Atlanta and Sacramento 80 and 88 points respectively. Sure, neither squad are offensive juggernauts, but we'll take what we can get. Can this defense continue? The Thunder will pose a serious test tonight...Amare Stoudemire has obviously been scoring at will, but since his one rebound performance vs. the Mavs on Jan 28, STAT has posted 6 double digit rebounding games, and hasn't pulled down less than 8 boards in any single game. Perhaps there is a reason why he's still wearing a Suns uniform.
The Big Three
I'm not talking about Garnett, Allen, and Pierce, nor am I talking about Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short. I'm talking about Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Jeff Green. We all know about Durant. He's scored in double figures in every game this season. He's second in the NBA behind LeBron with 29.8 per game. He boards 7.5 a game, averages 3 assists, a block and nearly 1.5 steals a game. Not to mention 48% from the field, and 88% from the line. And he was born in 1988, about the time guys like me were wearing acid washed jeans, listening to this killer new band called Guns 'N Roses, and buying condoms for no good reason other than delusional wishful thinking. Russell Westbrook is a budding triple double threat at 16/7/5 and another child born in '88 for the Thunder who has put it together at a very, very young age. Jeff Green rounds out this explosive trio of former first round picks, averaging 14 and 6. Green's averages this season from the field don't jump out from the monitor: 44% FG, 31% from behind the arc, but he can do a little of everything. Green's coach at Georgetown, John Thomspon III said of Green: "He's the smartest player I've ever coached."
During their 9-game winning streak, the Thunder's big three of turned it up a notch as follows:
- Durant: 32.5 PPG/8RPG
- Westbrook: 19.6 PPG/9APG
- Green: 16.3 PPG/6 RPG/1.6 SPG
The Suns have little choice but to compete tonight. Nash or no Nash, this is crunch time. Earlier in the season we could have accepted a blow out and move on, but as Amare said, poignantly:
"Everybody is on everybody else's heels. One game can determine whether you have home court advantage or not. With that being said, we know how important these games are and we attack (them) as such."
- OKC is 17th in the league in FG%. Their 20th in 3-PT FG%. Make them shoot from outside.
- OKC is 4th in the league in rebounding differential at +2.44. Keep them off the boards.
- OKC is 6th in the league in steals. Take care of the ball, limit turnovers
- OKC is 2nd in the league in opponents FG% and 7th in points allowed. Um...pray to the basketball gods that bench scores more than 12 points and J-Rich/Hill/Dudley/Amundson/Dragic/ shoot better than 13-39 this time out vs. the Thunder?