Talk about of rough stretch, the Phoenix Suns are set to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at the Chesapeake Energy arena in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Thunder own the second-best overall market in the NBA and are tied with the Denver Nuggets for the second best overall home record with 22 home wins and just three losses.
Oklahoma City owns the NBA’s highest mark in terms of point differential, beating their opponents this season by an average of 8.8 points. As always the Oklahoma City Thunder are led by Kevin Durant, a superstar of the highest level. Durant is in the midst of one of the best seasons in NBA history as he’s leading the league in scoring, averaging a career high in assists but most remarkably, Durant is on pace to complete the legendary 50-40-90 season; Durant is shooting 52% from the field, 42% from beyond the arc, and 90% from the foul line.
The Phoenix Suns has center Jermaine O’Neal listed as day to day but he’s expected to play. The Thunder has DeAndre Liggins and Kevin Durant listed as day to day; Durant suffered a rib injury on February 2nd in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’s expected to play tonight as he’s done so the last two games.
Oklahoma City are the favorite by a 12.5 point margin according to ESPN.com. The Suns have lost four straight games at the Chesapeake Energy arena; the last the Suns beat Oklahoma City was on December 19th 2010 when Grant Hill recorded 30 points and 11 rebounds in the Suns win.
Keys to the game: Suns
– Contain paint penetration! It’s going to be a long night for the Suns if Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant gets into the lane at will.
– Rebounding! The Oklahoma City Thunder are too good offensively, every time the Suns cough up an offensive rebound to OKC, might as well look at it like a turnover.
– Watch out for Kevin Martin! The Suns bench guys has to contain Martin; Oklahoma City are 8-1 this season when Martin scores 20 points or more.
Keys to the game: Thunder
– Push the pace! The Thunder are far better equipped to play run and gun ball than the Suns are, not to mention the vast difference in terms of offensive talent between the two teams.
– Pick and roll defense! That’s always a key for any Phoenix Suns opponent, with or without Steve Nash.
– P.J Tucker. P.J Tucker has the toughest assignment in the entire NBA tonight having to contain Kevin Durant. Despite the fact that during extended periods of the game when Tucker has been able to put Durant on Darrelle Revis’ Island but ultimately Durant is averaging 35.5 points against the Suns this season.
Match-up of the night!
– I always enjoy a point guard match-up like this one, Dragic vs. Westbrook. There are times I wish Dragic would attack the defense as relentlessly as Westbrook does.