Shootaround: Thunder’s journey begins

Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0) vs.San Antonio Spurs (1-0)
9:30 p.m./TNT


The Thunder kick off their Western Conference title defense against the team they needed to dethrone to get to the Finals for the first time since 1996 (or ever, depending on whose history you choose to believe). Oklahoma City may have lost James Harden, but this is largely the same team that took four straight from San Antonio and made San Antonio look a bit like its age.

Brett Deering/Getty Images/ZimbioOf course, the Spurs are the ageless ones and will find a way to stay in this and stay in this race. Likely we are not looking at two Western Conference titans at their powers seeing as this is the first/second game of the season.

Still, there is really no other intrigue or reason to watch this game except for the fact that it is two really good teams playing each other. It should be a pretty solid game to watch.

So we renew the old rivalries once again. Tim Duncan against the defense of kendrick Perkins. Kevin Durant against the gritty defense of Stephen Jackson. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook battling in a duel of elite point guards. And Manu Ginobili (if he plays) against the newcomer to this rivalry, Kevin Martin.

This will not be a Western Conference Playoffs preview. But this game may very well likely have meaning in April if home court is on the line. That should be reason to watch alone.

Other Storylines to Watch

-How does Kevin Martin fit into this team? We already saw what James Harden did filling into Martin's role with Houston. So how does it work in reverse? The Thunder relied on Harden's scoring punch off the bench a whole bunch last year as a change of pace. So can Martin provide that energy and fluidity when Durant and Westbrook are on the bench? How about at the end of games, how does he fit in if the game is close. That is a big concern and a question that begins to get answered tonight in this crucial opener.

-The NBA's thoughts and prayers are still with those affected in the New York area and all around the East Coast who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. There was of course supposed to be a second game tonight with the Knicks helping the Nets open their new arena and new era in Brooklyn. The city is still shut down making holding a game just about impossible. The Knicks will open the season Friday against the Heat and the Nets will get their first visit from the Knicks on November 26.

Tonight's Fantasy Picks

F Kevin Durant, Thunder (@ Spurs)
F Tim Duncan, Spurs (vs. Thunder)
C Serge Ibaka, Thunder (@ Spurs)
G Tony Parker, Spurs (vs. Thunder)
G Russell Westbrook, Thunder (@ Spurs)

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily