It’s Wednesday and that means ESPN is bringing us a prime-time NBA double-header later on tonight. Game one will feature the struggling New York Knicks up against the surprising Atlanta Hawks. These two teams have reversed roles here in the early part of the season.
The Knicks have been victim to some extremely negative publicity through the first few weeks of action. They hold a 2-4 record while the Hawks are receiving high praise for a 4-3 mark. I guess that is great for a team who was predicted to finish somewhere at the bottom in overall records.
The second game of the ESPN double-header is the best matchup on the NBA schedule tonight. The Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder is actually one of two games tonight that features two teams with winning records. There may not be a lot of value on tonight‘s selection of games, but at least we will get to see two Western Conference powerhouses go at it.
Early MVP candidates Kevin Durant and Chris Paul will be looking to get a heads up on the other. Durant is known for his spectacular performances against this offensive-minded Clippers team, and he still knows he has to bring his top game against any CP3 led team.
The two biggest stars in the game will get most of the attention, but the key matchup will be Paul against Russell Westbrook. The game could easily come down to which of these guys has the better night. Westbrook has edged out Paul as of late; often leading the Thunder to victory, with the help of KD of course.
Outside of the obvious star-power of Durant, Paul and Westbrook we also have a pretty good battle slated to go down in the paint. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka are two very gifted big men with the ability to make some even bigger plays.
They’ll be banging bodies all night in hopes of giving their team the extra help that’ll be needed to walk out with a victory. Ibaka and Griffin have been very productive here early on. Griffin has a leg up in the conversation of who’s the better big at this point, but Ibaka could pull close if he comes through with a strong game tonight.
The starting lineups are sure to deliver in this game, but a lot of people will have their eyes on the bench play. Fans of both organizations are looking for a bit more consistency from their second units. The Thunder bench has been more productive and have also been through more changes.
The Clippers have a yearly Sixth-Man of the Year award candidate in Jamal Crawford; he can burn you with All-Star quality numbers at any given moment. He’s the type of player that could score 15 or 20 in the first quarter to bury teams deep before they get a chance to get rolling.
Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb of the Thunder have been playing pretty decent thus far. I predict that one of these guys will have a huge game on prime-time television as the entire world watches on. It’s the perfect chance for young players with higher expectations to gain followers and shed some doubt.
We’re less than 12 hours away from what will be a very exciting and fast-paced NBA game. A few of the week’s top ten plays may be coming from this matchup; it’s very likely in a game that features four or five All-Star caliber players. This game also may serve as a preview to a possible playoff matchup later down the road.