2011 NBA Playoffs Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Denver Nuggets
Game one of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets is today at 9:30 ET and should be one of the more entertaining series in the first round. Both teams are very talented and the series could go either way.
Both teams could go far if they advance and I predict the winner of this series to upset the Spurs in the second round. Read on to see which team will win the first game and how they will do so.
How They Did in the Regular Season
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The Oklahoma City Thunder were 55-27 and finished first in the Northwest division. The Denver Nuggets were 50-32 and finished second in the Northwest division.
The teams were close rivals and they faced each other four times. Oklahoma City won three out of the four games in the series.
Oklahoma City Thunder Keys to Victory
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The Thunder match-up well with the Denver Nuggets but they have to be upset over playing the hot Nuggets. The Thunder have been playing great since they acquired Kendrick Perkins and they can match-up with anyone now that they have him.
The Thunder are one of the fastest teams in the league and they should look to capitalize on their speed. They have the ability to score lots of points and should do so often. Specifically they should capitalize on the fact they have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They are both able to take over a game and should do so.
What's more important that getting Durant and Westbrook involved, is to get someone off the bench involved. If someone like James Harden or Nate Robinson can get hot, it could be extremely difficult for the Nuggets to guard them.
Denver Nuggets Keys to Victory
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The Nuggets have been one of the surprise teams since the trade deadline and they have played great since then. I thought they would fall off the map when they traded Carmelo Anthony and they proved me wrong.
The Nuggets have numerous scoring options and any of them could go off at any time. This is what makes the Nuggets so dangerous. When they had Carmelo, teams could focus on him but now they have to pay attention to everyone. One night it could be Danilo Gallinari, next it could be Raymond Felton, and after that Wilson Chandler.
If the Nuggets can get reliable bench production, this could be a very different series. Denver is very hard to beat when bench players play well. The Nuggets have the potential to be extremely influential in who wins the West.
Who Wins Game One
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I would love to see both teams win but only one can. The Thunder will play a surprisingly good defensive game one and they should control the rebounding margin. To make-up for their lack of rebounding, the Nuggets will push the ball at all possible times and should try to force turnovers in order to score easy baskets.
The Thunder will open up hot and will be winning by at least 10 at half time. George Karl will give a killer speech at half time and the Nuggets will then come out strong in the third quarter and get the game within five. The fourth quarter will be back and forth until the last two minutes. In the end, the Thunder close the game with Durant and Westbrook and the Nuggets comeback attempt is unsuccessful.
Thunder win game one 97-91
Check in before each game of this series, I'll be writing predictions for each game.