The Oklahoma City Thunder haven't blown us all away this season, which many thought was an inevitability following their Western Conference Finals loss to Dallas last year and another year of growth for their young core. But they have complied the best record in the conference at 23-7 despite some troubling losses to the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings along the way.
More importantly for the Thunder, however, is that they've won big games against playoff-caliber opponents, and they'll face another one Sunday night in their Northwest Division rival, the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets started out the season like gangbusters, but they're reeling now, having lost nine of their last 12 games. They've lost their leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari, to injury, and they have struggled to replace his offense, a problem that's been compounded by not having Wilson Chandler, who's still stuck in China.
The Nuggets are clinging to playoff position -- they're 17-14 and currently hold the eighth spot in the Western Conference -- but they could really use a high-quality win on national television, say, against the Thunder, to right the ship. The Thunder are 12-6 on the road this season, but 4-1 against teams in their division. Things aren't looking too good for the Nuggets.