Saturday, November 24, 7:00 PM at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
9-4 (1st Northwest, 3rd West)
7-5 (3rd Atlantic, 6th East)
TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
NOTE: Comcast SportsNet HD is now on XFinity® Channel 847
by Max Rappaport and Alex Schiappacasse
Action In The (Mid)-Atlantic
The Thunder travel to Philly looking to avenge a 100-108 loss to fellow-Atlantic Divisioners the Boston Celtics in Beantown last night. The Thunder trailed by 12 points with under four minutes remaining, but were able to cut their deficit to just three points in the course of one minute. The Celtics, however, were able to pull away, finishing the game on a 7-2 run. The Thunder have not lost back-to-back regular season games since April 6, when they fell to the Indiana Pacers two nights after dropping a close game to the eventual-champion Miami Heat.
Oklahoma City is second in the NBA in scoring, averaging 102.8 points per game. They have topped the century mark in eight games this season, going 7-1 in those contests. The Thunder are led by four players who are averaging double-figures in scoring – forward Kevin Durant (25.7), guard Russell Westbrook (21.2), guard Kevin Martin (16.7), and forward-center Serge Ibaka (14.8).
Oklahoma City is represented in the top-five of four of the major six statistical categories (points, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, and field-goal percentage). Kevin Durant is second in the league in scoring, averaging 25.7 points per game; Russell Westbrook is fifth in the league in assists, dishing out 8.4 helpers a game; Serge Ibaka is first in the league in blocks, swatting 3.3 shots per game, and is fifth in the league in field-goal percentage at 56.9%.
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
G Kevin Martin vs. G Nick Young
On the eve of the 2012-13 season, the Thunder reached a deal with the Rockets to ship Sixth Man of the Year swingman James Harden to Houston. The deal netted Kevin Martin, rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, and draft picks. While Martin, now in his ninth NBA season, lacks the all-around game that made Harden such an important part of the Thunder's recent title run, his scoring ability is all-world. Martin averaged 17.1 points per game last year as starter for the Rockets.
With his new team, he has been asked to come off the bench, in much the same way Harden did last season, to provide quality minutes and a scoring spark. This season, he is playing 30.2 minutes per game while averaging 16.7 points. With superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook drawing a great deal of attention from opposing defenses, Martin is often able to operate with the luxury of facing lesser defenders and avoiding double-teams.
In his first season with the Sixers, Nick Young has played a role similar to that of Kevin Martin - score, score, and score some more off the bench. Young had one of his best games of the season against the Cavaliers on November 18th. For the season Young is second on the team in scoring per minute, playing 24.4 minutes per night and averaging 10.9 points. The 6-7 guard is shooting 38.6% from the field and 36.1% from three-point land. In his last four games, though, he's averaged 15.3 points per game on 51.4 FG% and 46.7 3PT%, while logging just over 24 minutes a night.
While Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook deserve the crux of Philly's attention on the defensive end, Kevin Martin has led the Thunder in scoring twice this season, scoring 27 and 28 points in those games. The nine-year veteran has attempted almost half of his shots from beyond the arc this season, where he is shooting an outrageous 52.4%. In the paint, Martin converts just 57.1% of his attempts, including just 61.1% from inside the restricted area. From midrange, his efficiency is even worse. He's hit just 13 of his 39 attempts from outside the paint and inside the arc. Keeping Martin from getting clean looks from three-point range will be key.
LAST TIME THEY MET
2/29/2012 - Thunder 92, Sixers 88
The last time these two teams met, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook propelled the Thunder past the Sixers. With 5:31 remaining in the game, the Sixers held an 84-77 lead over the Thunder, but Philly would go on to miss its next 10 shots, as the 2011-12 scoring champion, Durant, scored 10 fourth-quarter points to secure the Oklahoma City victory. Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala were the leading scorers for the Sixers, scoring 18 points apiece. Elton Brand recorded a double double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. As a team, the Sixers shot 41.1% percent from the field and 23.5% from beyond the arc. Durant was the leading scorer for the Thunder, with 23 points, and Russell Westbrook had a double-double, scoring 22 points and pulling down 13 boards.