What an awful loss to the Kings. Tomorrow afternoon’s game can go one of two ways: win or lose narrowly, thus reaffirming the hard work and gains, or lose badly and lose a ton of momentum if they don’t handle it well.

Before we get into the breakdown, Royce Young of Daily Thunder was kind enough to answer a few pre-game questions for us.

So that rebuilding strategy you guys used…totally repeatable, right?

Yeah totally. Just draft Kevin Durant. It’s really not all that hard, is it?

Seriously though, everyone wants to talk about mimicking the so-called “Thunder Model” which is really just a regeneration of the “Spurs Model.” A lot of what’s important in taking that approach is to never lose sight of the long-term vision. Draft picks are valuable. Young talent, valuable. Attractive contracts, very valuable. And most importantly, patience.

But for it to work, there has to be a pretty clear, visible plan for fans to understand. The Thunder were fortunate with their situation moving to a very excited city that didn’t care they sucked for a season. But along with that, every Thunder fan could see the pot at the end of the rainbow.

Are the Thunder are a title favorite this year? They look the part, and the swap of Harden for Martin and change sure doesn’t looked to have slowed them down. Still, the West is top-heavy, and there’s always Miami.

I don’t know if “title favorite” is necessary on target, but they’re certainly a contender. After the Harden trade, there were fears and concerns of the potential drop-off the Thunder would feel while they adjusted to a new sixth man, and how they’d manage crunch-time situations.

So far, so very good.

What, if anything at all, could the Raptors try to exploit against the Thunders to eke out a victory?

The Thunder remain a pretty high volume turnover team. There’s a dirty little secret to turnovers: When they happen, you don’t get a shot at the basket, which means it’s impossible to score. I know, complicated. (Note from Blake: #analytics)

But the Thunder have maybe the league’s best offense with three explosive offensive players in Durant, Westbrook and Martin, along with a very solid fourth option in Serge Ibaka. The more possessions you take away from OKC, the less time the ball spends in those four guys’ hands.

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: OKC 1st (113.1), Toronto 12th (105.1)
D-Rating: OKC 9th (103.5), Toronto 26th (107.8)
Pace: OKC 8th (92.5), Toronto 24th (90.4)
Strength: OKC Basketball (1st), Toronto Ball Control (2nd)
Weakness: OKC Turnovers (30th), Toronto Fouling (30th)

Positional Breakdown
Point Guard – Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry v. Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor
Even “bad Westbrook” is actually very good. A fully healthy and committed Lowry would have difficulty with Westbrook, so if it’s anything less than that Lowry, he’ll be torched. And Jose, well, don’t expect much. Offense will be tough, too, as the Thunder have the top defense against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, as well as the eleventh best defense against roll men. The only exploitable area appears to be in transition and for players coming off screens. Of course, transition offense is initiated by defensive stops, so…yeah.

Wings – DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson v. Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson
Kevin Durant
Seriously guys, it’s KD. You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him. Martin is also very good, though I’d like to see Anderson tasked with disrupting him on the perimeter to see if he can get him out of his flow. Nobody on this team is going to check Durant capably. They’ll probably throw Pietrus on him to start and that won’t work. On offense, the Raptor wings can actually get theirs here. Sefolosha is a very strong defender but plays about equal time as Martin, who isn’t a strong defender, and KD is capable but probably won’t be asked to do a whole lot given the match up. Oh, and Double-A needs to stop being our highest-volume shooter. I like the guy, but he’s not Option 1A.

Bigs – Ed Davis, Amir Johnson’s Six Fouls, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy Slater v. Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Hasheem Thabeet
The Raptors might actually be okay here. Ibaka is very good at a lot of things, and Collison is one of my favorite players. However, Perkins is more or less useless in this match-up, so when he’s on the floor it’ll be a plus for the Raptors. With that said, Ibaka is difficult to guard now that he’s hitting jump shots, and Raptor bigs could get in foul trouble by way of having to help on Westbrook and Durant.

The Picks
Vegas: Thunder -7
Hollinger Power Ranking: Thunder -5
Blake: Thunder by 7

I’m being positive and hoping the Raptors can keep it close. If they can, they shouldn’t lose too much of the momentum they had built up, even with the awful Kings loss. The team would then have two days off to regroup before winnable home games against Philly, Charlotte and Milwaukee to get them back on the right track. Things can’t go off the rails again, so play hard and keep it close and who knows? The Nets and Celtics beat this team, and twitter tells me those teams suck, so why can’t the Raptors?

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  • Andrew

    Most of our games, we got out-rebounded and the last game we are fully exposed. We don’t have any bigs that can defend big time opposing bigs

  • Raptor

    Andrea has always played good against OKC

    • p00ka

      fact: andrea bargnani is the biggest pussy in the nba. the guy has a fucking girls name for godssake.

      • FAQ

        … and what kind of name is pOOkaka…??!!!

        • p00ka

          my imposter playing FAQ as well??? I didn’t think FAQ is that dumb

      • Danny De Vito & Co.

        AndreaIt derives from the Greek aner,genitive (andrós), man (i.e.adult man).Andrea is a masculine name, the equivalent of Andrew.It is traditionally popular because, according to the Christian Bible,Saint Andrew was one of the earliest disciples of Jesus and one of the twelve Apostles.
        it derives from the English asshole (asssssol!), that indicates an invertebrate with big lips at the end.It is traditionally popular because, according to the RR ,pOOka was one of the most active writers of the lot.

        • p00ka

          fact:sam mitchell was told by management to not be hard on bargnani b/c andrea bargnani is a huge pussy, that doesn’t take criticism well. He is a little bitch, a tall little bitch.

          • footie

             that’s bullcrap from Sam and maybe BC part…Messina soft on Barg??? AH AH AH AH AH!!!!

          • p00ka

            Not me. Just some coward playing games.

        • p00ka

          Another fool that is too dumb to recognize the difference between what I post and what my trolling imposter posts,,,,,,,, OR the same cowardly troll using multiple tags to play his childish little games.

      • p00ka

        Not me. Just some coward playing games.

  • FAQ

    THUNDER CRUSH… @1 PM EST… bring your popcorn and beer and watch a demolition.

  • ad

    Hope they are planning on starting lowry and playing him most of the minutes. Westbrook is better than lowry but its not a huge difference as is the case with calderon vs. westbrook. OKC doesnt have a big talent edge in terms of bigs either. Talent on the wings is where the raptors will get killed.

    • footie

       we always give Calderon dead against superstar guard…who knows he might surprise us again…

    • KaioKev

      The problem with the Raps bigs versus OKC’s bigs isn’t talent. Its size. 

  • StaytheCourse

    I agree with Blake on Nick Collison he’s very good off the OKC bench!

  • j bean

    Nobody gets a W for just showing up. 
    Everyone has games where they are out of sync and their shots don’t fall.
    Everybody has games where the underdog stays within striking distance and pulls out a surprising W. 
    Let’s see if the Raptors can bounce back and make the fans proud with a good effort.

  • KJ-B

    The only person happier than the NHL/NHLPA & its millions of fans is: Andrea Bargnani aka -7… He must have awakened out of his sleep shouting: #POUNDthePUCK

    Hopefully the media, and we can give him a break now, tired of the incessant Primo Pasta commercials being the only sighting of him in a uni–hopefully, if he has a pair, he’ll finally man up!!!!

  • Paradigm Shift

     I’ve been a basketball fan for about 35 years and have seen one live NBA game, in Phoenix, in 1986. Today I am heading to my first live Raptors game, and second NBA game, as a birthday present from my partner.

    I am really hope they can stay in the game at least until the 4th quarter…..then again if it’s a blow out, and the place empties out, maybe we’ll be able to move down from the 300 section. What is the ACC like for allowing people to move down when the place empties out?

    • James C Park

      Very easy. Scout seats in the first half and move down at half time.

      • Paradigm Shift

         Thanks for the tip but we just stayed put

    • vino

      Could not have asked for a better treat! I hope this is a close game and you get to fully enjoy this adventure. I can remember myself back in 97 when we first arrived in Canada; I could not wait to spend my $20 to buy a Raps ticket against the Bulls to see MJ.

      If people start leaving… you can grab a seat in the low section; I’ve done it many times.

    • Matt52

       I hope you enjoy the game!

      • Paradigm Shift

         Thanks all for the comments. It was very a very exciting game….in the first half. We had a really nice time. Now I’m pulling out of Union Station on Via, heading home to watch future games on TV with Leo :'(

  • vino

    “Martin is also very good, though I’d like to see Anderson tasked with
    disrupting him on the perimeter to see if he can get him out of his

    I do not know why people think AA is an above average defender, cause he is not. Moreover, chasing Martin (or any other quick two that runs off the screens) exposes AA greatest weakness – he’s slow! I sure hope he is not guarding Martin for prolonged periods. Ross has a better chance on that!

  • grizzly73

    At the top of the list of many raptors problems is no true big. AB plays 4; JV too green; Amir too light; A Grey – no explanation needed.

  • KJ-B

    DeRozan playin’ scared tho–just give Alan Anderson your paycheque….get it 2gether in the 2nd half maan!

    TRoss did and under the basket reverse layup miss where he took of at the edge of the lane–straight Mike…wOw!!

    Alan ANderson, finally getting some Casey Love with extra PT!!!

    • KJ-B

      Standing O to Casey for pulling DeRozan–playing like a school out there! Hopefully TRoss comes on and dunks on somebody and shows him what all the tape watching in the world can’t produce: HEART. INSTINCT>DRIVE. 

      Won’t be voting Deebo’s way for All Star for a loooong time after disappearing like THIS today… 2/3 levels below today against an ALL STAR type team.  I’d bench him for the whole game if the 2nd unit picked it up–needs to “earn” his keep–UNACCEPTABLE.

  • KJ-B

    The Playoff Fantasy/Dream has ended.  

    This is what happens when team/coach take a night off against Sacramento.

    They should lose v Philly.

    Casey/Colangelo will be fired at season’s end.

    Keep -7 to up his trade value–move him in the summer.

    There are moments/windows of opportunity in time–in turned around in Portland, then ended vs Sacramento…

    Ohh well, there always next year, right?!  MLSE has the Leafs back now so who really cares in Toronto about the lowly Raps… #SICKENING

    • Dave McGeachie


      • Dave McGeachie