Predicting Oklahoma City Thunder’s Next Five Games
Predicting The Oklahoma City Thunder's Next Five Games
At 14-4, it is safe to say that the Oklahoma City Thunder have overcome all obstacles that were in their way prior to the start of the season. Many people had the Thunder slipping due to the loss of Kevin Martin and the uncertainty of Russell Westbrook's health.
All of the doubt surrounding this team has been eradicated after their early success. The emergence of Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb caught most of the sports world off guard, but they have been pleasant surprises for Thunder fans worldwide.
This OKC team still has plenty of room for improvement, as their 14-4 record is only good for third place in a very competitive Western Conference. It seems as if every team in the West has taken a step forward this year. We expected teams like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors to be significantly improved, but underdogs like the Portland Trail Blazers (17-4) and Dallas Mavericks (13-8) have caught the attention of most players, coaches and fans.
The Thunder are in position to continue their usual dominance in the NBA now that we know they have not slipped. Kevin Durant is having the best start to a season in his career. His performance thus far has definitely been MVP-worthy. He is currently averaging 28.5 points per game, 8.2 rebounds and five assists. His counterpart Westbrook has struggled early on, making the team's early success even more of a surprise.
OKC's next five games are not as tough as their previous five, but should still give fans something to look forward to. Here are my predictions for the those upcoming matchups.
vs. Indiana Pacers - Dec. 8, 2013
Easily the toughest game out of the next five, the Thunder are at home against the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have looked nearly invincible all year on their way to a 18-2 record thus far. The good news for OKC is that their two losses have come on the road, while the Thunder are still undefeated at home. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be extremely hyped and ready to prove that they're the best team in the NBA, regardless of what the numbers indicate. OKC will leave this game 10-0 at home.
Final Score: Thunder 102 -- Pacers 96
at Atlanta Hawks - Dec. 10, 2013
Don't look now, but the Atlanta Hawks are the third seed in the Eastern Conference. No one saw this team playing this well early on, or at any point of the 2013-14 NBA season. This could easily be a trap game for the Thunder, as they do not know what to expect from this surprising Atlanta team. They could get a struggling Hawks team or a team that's ready to put a fight with their backs to the wall. The OKC role players will be the difference in this one. Westbrook may be more effective than Durant because the Hawks know they have to lock down the big scorer if they're going to have any chance at winning. This one will be closer than most expect.
Final Score: Thunder 110 -- Hawks 100
at Memphis Grizzlies -- Dec. 11, 2013
The Memphis Grizzlies eliminated the Thunder in last year's playoffs after only five games. OKC were without Westbrook then. Now, he's back and looking to knock off the team that put his squad out of the playoffs. Durant hasn't forgotten how much it hurt to watch the Grizzlies celebrate advancing to the next round on their own court. This game may get a little testy. The Grizzlies are usually tough to defeat in Memphis, but they've apparently taken a step back this season. OKC will come out on top in a big way while getting some payback on the Grizz.
Final Score: Thunder 98 -- Grizzlies 84
vs. Los Angeles Lakers -- Dec. 13, 2013
The Los Angeles Lakers have shocked the world early on as they still remained competitive without Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard or Steve Nash. Bryant is due back on Sunday, so he'll have a few games under his belt when they travel to OKC. Depending on how the week plays out for both of these teams, we could be in for a very entertaining game. Hopefully, the two squads won't be beaten up and out of gas when Friday rolls around. The Durant vs. Bryant battle always makes for must-see television. At this point, the Thunder are the better team. They're at home and will still be undefeated there when the smoke clears in this one.
Final Score: Thunder 114 -- Lakers 108
vs. Orlando Magic -- Dec. 15, 2013
It looks as if everyone misjudged the Orlando Magic prior to the season. Instead of maybe only having one win thus far, they have a surprising total of six victories. Still, this is a bad basketball team with a few good players. They are 5-5 at home, which is something for this Magic squad to build on as they continue to rebuild their organization after the Dwight-bomb blew up in their faces. OKC will be back on a nice winning streak at the end of this game. I see Durant putting up 35-40 points in this one. If not him, then it'll be Westbrook who has the big numbers.
Final Score: Thunder 104 -- Magic 82