Date: December 10, 2013
Tip-Off Time: 7:30 PM ET
TV Channel: SportSouth (Local in Atlanta), NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 FM (Atlanta Flagship), Atlanta Hawks Radio Network Affiliates
Live Stream: League Pass Broadband
Breaking news: The Oklahoma City Thunder are good at basketball.
As Kevin Durant and company arrive in Atlanta, they are 5th in the NBA in “net rating”, having outscored their opponents by 6.8 points per 100 possessions, but there is something even more impressive that OKC can ride at the moment. The Thunder utterly blitzed the red-hot Indiana Pacers in their last game, beating the #1 seed in the East by 24 points on Sunday, and that is a window into how they’re playing right now.
OKC is also the only team in the NBA (as of Tuesday) that sits in the top-5 on both offense and defense, giving them a thoroughly balanced approach to winning games, but they do have a big-time star. Kevin Durant is a perpetual member of the NBA MVP race, and he’s the main piece that Mike Budenholzer and company have to worry about. I would expect to see a great deal of DeMarre Carroll on Durant in this one, but we could also see some Paul Millsap and Cartier Martin for different looks against the league’s 2nd-best player.
In the backcourt, the Thunder have Russell Westbrook, and that means Jeff Teague will continue the murderer’s row of point guard match-ups. Russ is one of the tougher covers in the league with his crazy athleticism and attacking style, but I do think Teague will “get his” in this spot, and Lou Williams should be available for a bit of help.
Al Horford has a difficult match-up of his own on Tuesday night, and Serge Ibaka forms the 3rd piece of the vaunted OKC trio. Ibaka isn’t a devastating offensive player (14.7 points per game), but he’s a high-level rebounder who is still developing, and Ibaka is one of the best shot-blockers in the entire league. Nothing will be easy in the paint when he’s on the court (for anyone), and he’s the anchor, along with Thabo Sefolosha, of their big-time defense.
Kyle Korver returns to the court in an effort to further extend his 3-point streak record to 91 games here. The fanfare of his pursuit will likely be gone after he broke the record on Friday night, but that doesn’t mean the streak stops, and it’ll be highly intriguing to see just how far he can push the limits.
Las Vegas has installed the Zombie Sonics as a 5-point favorite on the road, and that tells you just about all you need to know about how scary good they are. With that said, the Hawks should be well-rested (to say the least) with 3 full days off, and playing in their own building, they are certainly a threat to rise up and steal this one.
Stay tuned for updates throughout the night, and a full recap to follow.