Sunday, April 17, 2011

Western Conference Playoffs Round 1 - Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets

I think this is the series that shapes the entire Western conference playoff picture.  I would have loved for them to have played different teams in the opening rounds, but it is what it is.  The Thunder may have finally become that team with the addition of Perkins while the Nuggets have been playing as well as I think they can even when they had Carmelo. 


The Thunder come into this series knowing that this may in fact be their opportunity to represent the West in the NBA Finals.  They went out and got Kendrick Perkins and had to give up a lot in Krstic and Green, but he may be the missing piece.  Of course the Thunder are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  The ying to the other's yang.  Durant is the man, but Westbrook can lead this team and provide scoring too.  How much can Perkins help this team? 


These guys have played out of their minds since the trade.  You have to have played at UNC to get a lot of run at point guard (Felton and Lawson), but it's the wings that have come over and flourished since the trade.  Gallinari and Chandler provide scoring (and in bunches) for this team.  Add to the fact that the Nuggets already had Nene, Kenyon Martin, Arron Afflalo, and JR Smith and you can see why they haven't missed a beat. 


Thunder - James Harden and Serge Ibaka.  Harden is the third member of the Thunder Big 3.  Harden can fill it up when he starts rolling and can definitely alleviate some of the scoring from Durant and Westbrook.  Serge Ibaka is going to have to rebound and get those garbage points against the Nuggets.  He'll probably have K-Mart covering him, so he'll have to mentally be prepared too. 

Nuggets - JR Smith and Gallinari.  JR Smith has all of the talent in the world (could you imagine him in a Bulls jersey), but sometimes his head gets in the way.  If he can not fall in love with the 3 point shot and play some defense this will definitely help the Nuggets' cause.  We don't know how Gallinari will play in his first playoff appearance, but if he shows up, the Thunder may be in trouble. 

Prediction:  The Thunder are going to have to have other people score because the Knicks, I mean the Nuggets bench can put up numbers too.  I just want to watch two big men in Perkins and Nene duke it out in the paint.  Thunder 4-3.

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