Ranking the Oklahoma City Thunder's 5 Must-Watch Games of February

Bradlee Ross@rossbeCorrespondent IIJanuary 30, 2013

Ranking the Oklahoma City Thunder's 5 Must-Watch Games of February

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    Heading into the month of February, the Oklahoma City Thunder have maintained their status as one of the elite teams in the NBA. However, they will have to overcome many good teams in February.

    The Thunder only have 11 games in the month of February, but many of them are against some of the toughest teams in the league. They have young teams on the docket like Golden State, veteran teams like Chicago and a championship favorite in Miami.

    It will not be an easy month. Whether the Thunder are up for the challenge or not, it will certainly make for some amazing games to watch.

5. Feb. 22 vs. Minnesota

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    2012-13 Season Series: Tied 1-1

    As usual, the Minnesota Timberwolves are on the outside of the playoff race looking in due to major injury problems. However, even while suffering injuries, the Timberwolves always give the Thunder some of their toughest games of the season.

    Whether it is J.J. Barea, who has confounded the Thunder multiple times going all the way back to his championship run with the Dallas Mavericks, or Nikola Pekovic doing work inside, Minnesota has role players who step up when their stars are injured.

    Oklahoma City should win this game, but it is never a given. There is something about this matchup that lends itself to overtime thrillers and clutch shots.

4. Feb. 24 vs. Chicago

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    2012-13 Season Series: OKC 1-0

    When an NBA superstar gets hurt and has to miss an extended period of time, every fanbase of every team suffers. This game would have been much higher on this list if Derrick Rose were healthy.

    The Bulls are still one of the best teams in the league though, which is why their matchup with the Thunder is on this list. Their lone previous matchup of this season was a six-point win for the Thunder propelled by a 21-point, nine-rebound and four-block performance by Serge Ibaka.

    A similar performance from him, along with solid play from the rest of the team, will be required to win this game against a tough, veteran Bulls team that does not give anyone an easy basket.

3. Feb. 20 at Houston

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    2012-13 Season Series: OKC 2-0

    In their previous two meetings this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder have defeated the Houston Rockets by an average of 26 points per contest this season. Despite the margin that seems to separate these teams, this is always a big game and everyone knows why.

    James Harden has made the Rockets into the playoff contender they hoped he would. As of Jan. 30, they occupy the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture.

    As much as former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook love Harden, they will most certainly not be taking it easy on him. Harden has shot 9-of-33 from the field, and that trend will likely continue in this game.

2. Feb. 6 vs. Golden State

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    2012-13 Season Series: Tied 1-1

    Before the regular season started, this game probably would not have been ranked as high on this list. But the Golden State Warriors are finally realizing their potential under head coach Mark Jackson. The Thunder are well aware of this, as this young Warriors team defeated Oklahoma City 104-99 on Jan. 23 in a game that was not as close as it seemed.

    While Golden State is beginning to become a playoff team and probably will remain one for years to come, the Thunder are still the big boys on the block. They can match the Warriors' athleticism and youth, which is something few teams can do. 

    Needless to say, Oklahoma City will be gunning for this one, eager to get revenge at home for that previous road loss.

1. Valentine’s Day vs. Miami

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    2012-13 Season Series: Miami 1-0

    It will be anything but a love-fest when the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Miami Heat in a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals.

    The individual battle between the NBA’s two best players, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, would be enough on its own to make this one of the best February games to watch. We will also get the likes of Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Chris Bosh and Serge Ibaka.

    No other matchup of two teams in the NBA can deliver as much star power as this one, which is why it was the Finals matchup we wanted to see last season, and it is the one we want to see again in June. The NBA loves us enough to give it to us again on the day of love.