The Oklahoma City Thunder have locked up the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and have two games remaining, both at home. The first is on Tuesday night, April 24, against the Sacramento Kings.
The Thunder head into the game without super sixth man James Harden. Harden was knocked out of the Los Angeles Lakers' loss by a cheap shot elbow by Metta World Peace. Harden is out until a doctor clears him to play again, meaning he won't play again until he can pass a series of tests without headaches or dizziness.
Luckily, the first game of the final two is against a team that Oklahoma City dominated the last time they played. On April 20, Oklahoma City beat the Kings 103-92 on the road in a game where Kevin Durant scored 29 points. It was the second win in less than two weeks over the Kings, as the Thunder also won 115-89 on April 13 at home.
Sacramento did win the first meeting between the teams back on Feb. 9 by a score of 106-102, but this Kings team is just coasting to the end of the season. With a chance they will only play one more game in the town of Sacramento before their owners move them, the off-court controversy is completely overshadowing the lack of performance on the court.
The Kings might also be without star DeMarcus Cousins, who picked up his 13th technical foul of the season, which should result in a one-game suspension. He will appeal the technical but there is a good chance he misses the game. Without him, the weak Kings are one star less against a Thunder team filled with them.
While Harden won't play, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will continue to be the best one-two punch in the NBA and Serge Ibaka continues to prove that he is one of the best defensive forwards in all of basketball. Add in the amazing home court advantage at the Chesapeake Arena, and there is little to worry about in this game for the Thunder.
The next night, the division rival Denver Nuggets come to town and that is one game that might give the Thunder trouble. The game between the Thunder and Kings tips off at 7:00 p.m. CT.
Author Shawn S. Lealos has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma (2000) and is an avid sports fan that has lived in Oklahoma for over 40 years. He used to religiously follow the Dallas Mavericks until Oklahoma City found a team to call their own.
Other articles by Shawn S. Lealos:
- Meta World Peace Cheap Shot Brings Back Memories of Ron Artest: A Fan's Take
- Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. Los Angeles Lakers: 04.22.12: A Fan's Preview
- Billy Hunter and NBPA Demanding that Derek Fisher Resign: A Fan's Take
- Oklahoma CIty Thunder Vs. Sacramento Kings: 04.20.12: A Fan's Preview
- James Harden Proves His Worth as Top Sixth Man in NBA: A Fan's Take